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Nick Gordon
2 minute read
26 Jun 2014
6:00 am

SA men hoping for better luck

Nick Gordon

A stellar field lines up in Cologne this week as for the BMW International Open with six South Africans included in the starting list that will all tee off in the chase for European Tour glory.

FILE PICTURE: George Coetzee. Picture: Luke Walker/Gallo Images.

The list is headed by Thomas Aiken who has played consistently throughout the year, with a victory in the Africa Open and three top 10 finishes during what has been a successful stint in Europe so far this season.

Darren Fichardt is another player who has put in some decent rounds on the Tour this year and while he has yet to lift a trophy, there have been positive moments, especially his tie for seventh at the Spanish Open and then a share of 15th a week later at the Nordea Masters.

Fichardt comes into this week’s event on the back of a share of 63rd at the Irish Open, a figure he’ll no doubt be looking to improve in Germany this weekend. Justin Walters is another South African who earned a cheque with his tie for 70th last weekend and is hoping for a better showing.

Both Branden Grace and Jbe Kruger missed the cut at Fota Island last week and want to avoid a similar fate here.

Grace has a season-best finish of second at the Volvo Golf Champions earlier this year but hasn’t really fired since. Kruger, on the other hand, has struggled, having missed cuts in his last four European Tour events.

The final South African in the line-up is George Coetzee, the winner of the Joburg Open earlier in the year, who will play in his first event on this Tour since finishing in a share of 30th at the BMW PGA Championship last month.

Meanwhile on the PGA Tour, Ernie Els will lead a group of four South Africans at the Quickens Loans National at Congressional. The course venue was the scene of Els’ second US Open win back in 1997.

“It’s a very different course now compared to when I won there. Despite all the changes, though, this is still Congressional and it will always have the same good vibes, the same great memories from 1997,” Els was quoted as saying on his website.

“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well for a while, but I’m not getting it all together and my results reflect that. There have been good phases of play, some good rounds, but not four good rounds in the same week,” he added, reflecting on his current season.

Els will be joined by Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini when the event tees off today.