Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman will return to a favourite hunting ground on Thursday, while Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Erik van Rooyen gear up for their Augusta National debut, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The 2020 Masters has finally arrived and to say the golfing world is excited about this week is a gigantic understatement.
Patrons or not, this week remains a highlight on the golfing calendar and it’s also one that South Africans find rather enjoying and interesting.
It’s been eight long years since a local player last won a Major with Schwartzel’s famous acquisition of the Green Jacket in 2011 the last one coming from Georgia.
Adding to Immelman’s heroic triumph of 2008, the two have lifetime exceptions at the iconic event but will need to draw heaps of inspiration from their respective victories to overcome this challenging field.
Schwartzel will make his 11th Masters appearance, while Immelman will tee off for the 17th time at Augusta.
Bezuidenhout and Van Rooyen, on the other hand, are set for a thrilling week of action and it will undoubtedly be one of the biggest experiences of their career.
Competing at the Masters for the first time will be more than a special occasion and present an opportunity like no other. Both players have shown their fighting spirit in the past and will now have the chance to display it to full effect.
Dylan Frittelli will make his second appearance at the Masters and will certainly be eager to deliver a better showing than in 2018 when he missed the cut at the halfway mark. The 30-year-old has been carrying his weight nicely on the PGA Tour in recent times but with only one top-10 finish since the Tour’s restart back in June, this week will prove to be even more important and testing.
Similarly, Justin Harding will also feature in his second hit-out at Augusta after securing a pretty solid T12 at last year’s edition. He has also been quite consistent on the European Tour in recent weeks, which could boast well in his preparation for Thursday.
But, once again Louis Oosthuizen will lead the South African charge at an event he came agonisingly close to winning back in 2012. That playoff loss to Bubba Watson still haunts South Africans, but Oosthuizen is a proven competitor and can never be written off on the Major stage.
His third-place finish at the US Open back in September once again provided glimpses of his potential, while battling the best players on the planet. A second Major triumph would no doubt light up the South African grip as one of the top golfing countries in the world.