The last success in one of golf’s big four annual events came when Ernie Els lifted the Claret Jug for winning The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012. That victory by the Big Easy marked the third time in three years a South African had lifted a Major trophy, following Charl Schwartzel’s Masters victory in 2011 and Louis Oosthuizen’s Open triumph in 2010.
Before that, Trevor Immelman won the green jacket at the Masters in 2008.
But since that come from behind victory for Els’ fourth Major title in 2012, the nation has had little to celebrate.
This week there will be five South African’s teeing it up on the hallowed grounds of Augusta with Els, Branden Grace, Immelman, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel participating.
Oosthuizen, in particular, has unfinished business at the year’s first Major. King Louis led the 2012 Masters until he was caught with three holes left to play in the final round, after he famously made an albatross on the par-five second. It was only the fourth ever albatross in Masters history, and the first to be televised, as well as the first ever on that hole. Oosthuizen went on to lose to American Bubba Watson in a playoff after the home-favourite hit a miracle wedge shot on the second playoff hole to close out the victory.
This year, Oosthuizen has played four events on the PGA Tour with mixed results. He finished sixth at the World Golf Championships – Cadillac Championship in early March and produced a tied-ninth place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago. The 32-year-old, however, has two missed cuts in the last month to his name including missing out on weekend play at last week’s Shell Houston Open.
Els, too, has unfinished business at the Masters. The 45-year-old has two second place finishes at the event, the last in 2004 when American Phil Mickelson lipped-in for birdie at the 72nd hole to deny Els the chance to take it to a playoff.
Grace, meanwhile, has already tasted victory three times this season with two European Tour wins and one success on the Sunshine Tour. The 26-year-old has six European Tour wins to his name and could provide the American public with a surprise if he brings his A-game. – ANA
Original source: Els and Co out to break drought