• SA Open: Milestones to remember

    SA Open trophy
    History-filled trophy

    In the January issue, we look at 10 South African Open milestones from the years gone by.

    1903 is recognised as the official birth of the South African Open Championship. It was first played in 1893 but was only a series of exhibition matches between a few professionals. In 1903 the championship was contested over 36 holes in Port Elizabeth.

    In 1909 Potchefstroom Golf Club became the first golf course with 18 grass greens to host the South African Open Championship. The year also marked the formation of the South African Golf Union.

    In 1935 Bobby Locke became the youngest champion at the age of 17.

    In 1959 Denis Hutchinson became the last amateur to win the tournament.

    In 1963 Papwa Sewgolum came close to becoming the first non-white to win the Open, eventually losing by one shot to Retief Waltman at Durban Country Club.

    In 1971 Simon Hobday won the South African Open in controversial fashion. Playing at Mowbray Golf Club, Hobday thought he incurred a two-shot penalty on the 14th hole in the final round when his shot out of the bunker rebounded off the face and towards him. He couldn’t confirm whether or not the ball had hit him. The South African Golf Union ruled that it hadn’t, and Hobday went on to win by a single stroke over Gary Player.

    In 1972 black golfers were allowed to compete at the South African Open Championship for the first time.

    In 1997 the tournament became a co-sanctioned event on the European Tour.

    In 2004 Trevor Immelman became only the seventh golfer to successfully defend his title with a three-stroke victory at Erinvale Golf Club. No golfer has managed to retain the title since.

    In 2006 Ernie Els shot a championship record total of 264 at Humewood Golf Club in Port Elizabeth. Four years later, at Durban Country Club, he went one better, shooting 25-under-par 263 to beat Retief Goosen by one stroke.

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