• Els, Van Rooyen lead 15-strong Czech charge

    Erik Van Rooyen
    Van Rooyen goes again

    Four-time Major champion Ernie Els will be joined by 2018 Ryder Cup winning captain Dane Thomas Bjørn and England’s Eddie Pepperell for the first two rounds of the Czech Masters.

    Els begins his first Czech Masters in strong company at 1:05pm.

    Ten minutes later three-time European Tour winner Brandon Stone will resume duties alongside Tom Lewis and Robert MacIntyre.

    Hadyn Porteous kicks off his tournament at 12:55pm with Englishman Andrew Johnston and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson.

    Once again, the leading South African will be Erik van Rooyen, who starts as one of seven players in the field ranked inside the top 100.

    He is 20th in the Race to Dubai, the third best in the field behind Bernd Wiesberger and MacIntyre. Van Rooyen has added impressive finishes in The Open (T20), the Scottish Open (T14) and the PGA Championship (T8) to a string of European Tour top 10s as he continues his search for his breakthrough win.

    Edoardo Molinari and Alex Levy start alongside the impressive South African at 8:15am.

    Among the 15-strong Saffa contingent is Mattiam Keyser, a Dubai-based Challenge Tour player and former top-ranked amateur Wilco Nienaber.

    Nienaber made his professional debut at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge last month as he looks to follow a stellar amateur career where he claimed over 20 amateur titles. The hotly tipped South African opened his account with a round of 67, four under par, before rounds of 73-70 ahead of the final day. The 19-year-old signed for a final round of 69, two under par, to finish in a share of 11th place on his maiden outing in the paid ranks.

    Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

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