Positive strokes for South African game


Three-time European Tour winner Brandon Stone won for the first time again in nearly three years. – AP

IT proved a delightful sequence of performances for South African golf last week with a couple of victories registered and another showing that has given promise of better things to come on the bigger stages.

Long known as a formidable golf nation, South Africa savoured telling episodes on the world Tours when first Brandon Stone won the Limpopo Championship on the European Challenge Tour.

This was followed by 21-year-old Garrick Higgo claiming his second European Tour title at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open in Austria.

And then, in the two-man team event on the US PGA Tour, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the tried and trusted Major championship winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel were beaten at the death by Australia’s Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman.

Stone’s victory, albeit on the European Tour’s feeder circuit at Euphoria Golf Club in Modimolle, South Africa, was his first win across all the Tours in almost three seasons.

It was a playoff victory that will hopefully have given him the confidence to move towards to the sort of form that saw him win three European Tour titles between the beginning of 2016 and the middle of 2018, including the Scottish Open.

Higgo secured his inaugural European Tour win at last season’s Portugal Open and signed for a three-shot win in the Gran Canaria for his fifth pro title in just 44th starts.

He now aspires to play the Presidents Cup one day and also has two victories on the Sunshine Tour and another on the Big Easy Tour.

Oosthuizen and Schwartzel finished runners-up in the Zurich Classic after losing a sudden-death shootout, but they duly played their part in an entertaining and captivating finish at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion on the Old Course at St Andrews, and Schwartzel, winner of the Masters in 2011, have endured barren times in recent years.

But last week’s performances will have been heartening for both, and perhaps mark a return to the form that took them and South Africa to the very top of the sport.

It would be most welcome, not only to the southern African nation, but the global game as a whole.

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