Can SA sneak a win at the Open?
The eight-man strong South Africa contingent will look to build on their already impressive track record at Majors when Dawie van der Walt is first out of the blocks at Royal Liverpool this morning. South Africa is the second most winning nation at Majors after the US and the links layout at Royal Liverpool will play to the South African strengths.
He'll be followed by Fancourt's Branden Grace. It's been a quiet few years for Grace who will be desperately keen to repeat his feats of 2012 when he picked up four European Tour wins in the same year.
South Africa's top-ranked player Charl Shwartzel will tee off just after Tiger Woods and will mix it with double Open champion Padraig Harrington and KJ Choi. Schwartzel knows what it takes to win a Major and at this year's Open, he'll have to draw on that knowledge and experience.
Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen comes into the championship under an injury cloud and his recent form suggests he won't be a factor and will be lucky to make the weekend field. That may very well be the case but I would issue one caution: beware the injured golfer… especially if they're a champion. Winning is a difficult taste to get rid of and true champions seldom forget how to win.
Justin Walters, George Coetzee and Richard Sterne are all top golfers and deserve to be in the field. Will they win or even contend come Sunday? I don't think so, no.
However, the feature grouping not only from a South African point of view, but also unanimously agreed by the hundreds of foreign media, is the Ernie Els/Bubba Watson/Phil Mickelson grouping teeing off at 3:05pm South African time. The Big Easy was relaxed but looked sharp and focused during yesterday's practice round with good friend and world number one Adam Scott. He may very well have a say in the outcome of this championship… yet again!
The fact is that the South African class of 2014 for the Open is not in the best form - they'll even admit that to you. They have not won anything coming into the championship. Some of them are carrying injuries and maybe shouldn't even be playing. And yet in that group of eight players you have three Major champions with six Majors between them, 121 global titles and a burning desire to win every time they pick up a golf club. Today will be no different. Go ahead… write them off. I dare you.
_Jeremy Harris is the sports anchor at 94.5 Kfm and 567 Cape Talk. He is a keen golfer and plays off a 6 at his home club, Arabella. He is the voice of the Sunshine Tour weekly highlights and monthly magazine programmes on Supersport. You can follow him on Twitter _ @jeremyharris55
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