South Africans keen to maintain their dominance on home patch
Locals have won nine of the last 12 European Tour events on home soil
Justin Walters: one of the strong home contingent looking for success in the Africa Open which begins today at East London in the Eastern Cape. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
South African players will look to continue their remarkable dominance of events on home soil in this week’s Africa Open at East London.
George Coetzee’s victory in the Joburg Open on Sunday means nine of the last 12 European Tour events staged in South Africa have been won by home players, with all four previous Africa Opens won by South Africans.
And although Coetzee will not be in East London after withdrawing from the event in order to prepare for next week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Justin Walters is just one of his compatriots aiming to make the most of home advantage.
Walters finished joint second behind Coetzee last week, the 33-year-old sharing the lead with another South African, Thomas Aiken, going into the final round but struggling to a closing 73.
“Any time you start to feel a bit of form you want to continue,” said Walter.
At 6,632 yards, East London Golf Club is very short by modern standards, with strong coastal winds its major defence. Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen won with a total of 27 under par in 2012.
South African Darren Fichardt lifted the title 12 months ago, finishing two shots ahead of compatriot Jaco van Zyl and France’s Gregory Bourdy.
A five-strong Irish contingent includes Michael Hoey, Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin, Kevin Phelan and David Higgins.