SA golfers out to break 48-year PGA Championship drought

Louis Oosthuizen returns after finishing second at the 2017 PGA Championship. Picture: Getty Images

A total of six South African players will join the line-up on Thursday, as they aim to end a five-decade drought since Gary Player last secured the PGA Championship title.

The last time a South African golfer lifted the Wanamaker Trophy was in 1972, when Player won his second PGA Championship title, and it’s a Major which no other South African golfer has won.

Louis Oosthuizen came close to clinching the 2017 PGA Championship, finishing in second place at Quail Hollow after falling two strokes short of American Jordan Spieth.

Oosthuizen, the world No 24, was set to turn out again this week, along with five compatriots, at TPC Harding Park.

Other SA players in the field for golf’s first Major of 2020 included Erik van Rooyen, Charl Schwartzel, Dylan Fritelli, Shaun Norris and debutant Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

While many wouldn’t see him as a threat, Van Rooyen turned heads in his PGA Championship debut last year as he finished tied for eighth at Bethpage Black in New York.

Van Rooyen, the second-highest ranked SA golfer at 44th in the world, believed a South African would “sooner or later” lift the coveted Wanamaker Trophy.

“To be honest, I have not thought about that history. All I know is we have a ton of talented South African players coming through and sooner or later someone is going to win one,” Van Rooyen said.

Tournament favourite Brooks Koepka of the United States had the opportunity to become the first player to win the PGA Championship three years in a row since 1958.

While there would be no spectators, Van Rooyen was delighted to have the chance to compete at the event, which had been postponed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m very excited, and with all the events being postponed, that excitement has only built over the past few months,” he said.

“It’s a privilege being able to play golf with the current times we’re living in.”

Another SA golfer, Branden Grace, was initially included in the field for the tournament, but he had to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19 last week.

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