SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Nation Open Lineup Gets Even Stronger

The South African Open has received another boost with the inclusion of Swede Henrik Stenson in the field for the tournament, which takes place at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate from 15 to 18 November.

He will join Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace in the 102nd playing of golf's second oldest national Open.

The former world number four requested a late invitation from the European Tour to play in the SA Open as he seeks to work his way back into the top 50 on the world ranking.

'Delighted'

"I'm delighted to be playing in South Africa again," he said in a statement. "I have wonderful memories of the country and its people.

"The South African Open is also a tournament full of history, and with a strong field this year it's a great opportunity for me to add a national Open to my list of career victories," he added.

Stenson's career record includes six European Tour titles, two PGA Tour titles, victory in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup with Robert Karlsson in 2008, and two Ryder Cup appearances.

Nedbank Golf Challenge

He is also no stranger to South African fairways. In 2008, he captured the Nedbank Golf Challenge title by a staggering nine shots after opening with a first round of nine-under-par 63. His total of 21-under-par was also the third best in the history of the event.

Stenson has also enjoyed success against South Africa's leading golfers, beating Retief Goosen in a playoff to win the 2006 BMW International Open and edging out Ernie Els by a single shot to claim the 2007 Dubai Desert Classic.

The Swede's last victory, however, was back in 2009 in The Players Championship and a win in the South African Open would be a good way to get back onto the winning track.

Hottest of the hot

South Africa's Branden Grace is yet to win his national open, but he is the hottest of hot players on the European Tour in 2012, with an astonishing four victories to his name. Only Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Miguel Angel Jiminez, Bernhard Langer, Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Ian Woosnam and fellow SA Open entrant Martin Kaymer have managed the feat before.

For Charl Schwartzel, whose South African Open record includes second place in 2005, third in 2003 and fourth in 2010, the tournament is an opportunity to record his first victory since the 2011 US Masters.

With it being played at altitude, in conditions he is used to, Schwartzel hopes to make the breakthrough and join men likes Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman - men, like him, who are all major winners - as a winner of the South African Open.

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