• SA Open: By the numbers

    Ernie Els wins the SA Open
    The Big Easy is a former champion

    Compleat Golfer runs down the numbers that you need to know ahead of the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg.

    1 – Golfers in this year’s field at Randpark who have won the tournament more than once – South Africa’s Ernie Els.

    2 – Previous occasions the SA Open has been played at Randpark. In 1995 Retief Goosen beat Ernie Els by five strokes, and then again in 2000 when Swede Mathias Gronberg took the title.

    5 – Gary Player won the tournament five years in a row, raising the trophy in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

    10 – The number of countries represented on the winners’ list. The nine countries, apart from South Africa, are: England (Tommy Horton, Andy Sullivan, Graeme Storm, Chris Paisley), New Zealand (Bob Charles), United States (Charles Bolling, Fred Wadsworth), Zimbabwe (Tony Johnstone, Mark McNulty), Namibia (Trevor Dodds), Fiji (Vijay Singh), Sweden (Mathias Gronberg, Henrik Stenson), Scotland (Richie Ramsay) and Denmark (Morten Orum Madsen).

    13 – It might be expected but South Africa’s greatest golfer, Gary Player, has won his home Open a record 13 times. Next in line are Bobby Locke (9), Sid Brews (8) and George Fotheringham and Ernie Els with five each.

    17 – The age at which Bobby Locke won the first of his nine SA Opens, the youngest golfer to have done so.

    25 – Strokes under par for the record (263) score. Ernie Els posted rounds of 65, 65, 67 and 66 to win by one shot ahead of countryman Retief Goosen in 2010.

    115 – The number of years since the birth (1903) of the first SA Open as we know it. Before then (since 1893) it had been a series of exhibition matches between small groups of professionals in a challenge format. It is called the second-oldest Open championship in the world, behind The Open Championship, and while there is some debate about that – if you consider that the US Open was the earlier strokeplay event over 72 holes – in terms of pros competing against each other, the SA Open is older.

    240 – Total size of the field for this year’s tournament.

    289 – The World Ranking of England’s Chris Paisley heading into last year’s tournament, which he won. Victory took him up to 121st.

    1909 – The year in which the tournament was played for the first time on a course with 18 grass greens: at Potchefstroom Golf Club.

    1963 – The year in which Papwa Sewgolum came close to becoming the first non-white to win the SA Open, eventually losing by one shot to Retief Waltman at Durban Country Club. However, just when it seemed his career would take off, the apartheid government brought it to a halt. In 1966 the government banned Sewgolum from all local tournaments, and by withdrawing his passport, prevented him from playing abroad.

    17 500 000 – The total prize money at stake, in rands, at this year’s SA Open. The winner receives 158 500 euros, which converts to around R2.6-million.

    – This article first appeared in the December issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale!

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