Joburg Open preview: Richard Sterne aims for return to winning form

Darren Clarke will be in action in South Africa as field chase British Open places

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will join Peter Lawrie, Kevin Phelan and Gareth Maybin in Johannesburg. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will join Peter Lawrie, Kevin Phelan and Gareth Maybin in Johannesburg. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

 

South Africa’s Richard Sterne will attempt to win the Joburg Open for the third time in its nine-year history to make amends for a “horrendous” spell in America.

Sterne is attempting to earn his PGA Tour card this season but has missed the cut in all six events he has played, three at the end of 2014 and three more at the start of this year.

The 33-year-old has fared better on the European Tour with three top-40 finishes from three events and will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in Johannesburg this week.

“My results haven’t been good the last few weeks,” admitted Sterne, who won the title in 2008 and 2013. “I need to find my game again and there is no better place than here to start. If I can get healthy and feel good for Thursday I think I can get off to a good start.

Confidence

“It would be nice to have a round of golf where I hit the ball well, make some putts, and walk off the golf course with a bit of confidence. If I can do that then I think it will be a good few weeks.

“I’ve missed six cuts in a row [in America]. It’s been a horrendous start for me and I need to keep my card somewhere, so I’m under a bit of pressure with that. I haven’t been playing very well, so that hasn’t made it easier. I’m in a bit of a tricky situation, but I’m looking forward to playing in South Africa.

“I always try to come back and play here. I enjoy the look of the golf courses and I’ve done well here, but I’ve also missed cuts. It’s strange. Hopefully this year I can put myself in contention and if I can then I know that I can shoot low scores around here. I’ve got the game to do it.”

Sterne certainly proved that in 2013, shooting a tournament record of 27-under par in an event which features the most players – 210 – of the season and is played out over two courses.

Irish players

Darren ClarkePeter LawrieKevin PhelanGareth Maybin

George Coetzee achieved his first victory on the European Tour here last year and secured one of the three qualifying places on offer for the British Open.

The majority of the field will again be chasing those three qualifying places available finishing in the top 10.

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