The legendary Ernie Els expects more success from Thriston Lawrence, who joined a long list of great South African golfers by winning the SA Open.
Els is pleased to be back at Leopard Creek where he’s always had a special relationship with the course as the winner of the 2005 Alfred Dunhill Championship but is especially excited to watch Lawrence’s growing success.
“Seeing Thriston do as well as he has done is great to see. It reminds us of the past players and what other South Africans have done,” Els said. “We have such a rich history in the game in this country and these young players are continuing that.
“The roots of the game are in place here with the amazing work done by GolfRSA, the South African Golf Development Board [SAGDB] and other foundations such as mine and those of other golfers. Golf is in a good state in South Africa.”
There is a sense of coming full circle for Lawrence as he arrived at Leopard Creek for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship looking to continue his form as South Africa’s latest DP World Tour champion.
Lawrence grew up in nearby Mbombela and has a special relationship with Leopard Creek.
“The Alfred Dunhill Championship was the first professional tournament I ever came to support,” he said. “I remember seeing Ernie Els and all the others win here, and as a young amateur golfer standing next to the green asking for a ball. And to now be here myself is special.”
The 26-year-old returns this week as one of South African golf’s most exciting talents having won three times on the DP World Tour in the past 13 months and making history as the first South African to win the DP World Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.
Last week he added his name to the list of South African greats when he won the SA Open.
And this week Lawrence finds himself in illustrious company as he tees it up in an Alfred Dunhill Championship field that includes multiple Major winner and former world No 1 Els, fellow Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and former Alfred Dunhill Championship winners Branden Grace, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
“It’s very exciting to be here. Everybody wants to get their hands on that leopard trophy,” said Lawrence.