A group of seven South Africans will tee off at the US Open in New York when the year’s second Major gets under way on Thursday.
It’s been eight long years since a South African golfer last won a Major – one has to roll back time to 2004 to find the last local player who triumphed at the US Open.
Those respective victories by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will, however, mean little to this week’s exciting batch of contenders – headlined once again by Louis Oosthuizen, who has recently fallen to 25th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Oosthuizen will still be eager to go one better at the event after narrowly missing out on a famous victory at the 2015 US Open edition at Chambers Bay – coming in second to Jordan Spieth.
The 37-year-old is grouped with Zach Johnson and Keegan Bradley for the opening two rounds.
Youngsters Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout could, though, present an exciting challenge to the world’s best players after knocking on the door over the past 18 months for a possible breakthrough victory.
Winged Foot Golf Club could very well be a good opportunity for players like Van Rooyen and Bezuidenhout to keep in contention throughout the four rounds.
Van Rooyen has been paired with Belgium’s Thomas Detry and the American Tyler Duncan, while Bezuidenhout will tee off with Victor Perez and Paul Waring.
This year’s South African Open champion, Branden Grace, was handed a lifeline earlier this week after being named as an alternate replacement for Scottie Scheffler, who had to withdraw from the event after testing positive for Covid-19.
Grace will also be hoping to capitalise on the opportunity when he gets under way on Thursday alongside Matt Fitzpatrick and Daniel Berger.
Another player who will be buzzing for the opportunity is Justin Harding after he was named as one of 10 players to earn exemptions into the US Open.
Harding has been playing some consistent golf on the European Tour in recent months but will be well aware that a lot of composure will be required at Winged Foot.
The event will also be a huge week for 26-year-old JC Ritchie and Shaun Norris, who haven’t participated in as many Major competitions as most of the rest of the field.
Ritchie will make his first appearance at a Major event, while Norris, who has been competing on the PGA Tour this past season, will only participate in his third one.
Ritchie will pair up with American duo Daniel Balin and Greyson Sigg, with Norris competing alongside Rory Sabbatini and Chan Kim.