Preview: Joburg Open

The European Tour remains in South Africa after the Christmas break. Next up is the Joburg Open where Richard Sterne defends his title.

Richard Sterne Joburg Open

Lowdown: Richard Sterne has the chance to make history this week. If he could successfully defend his Joburg Open title he’d become the first player since Seve Ballesteros in 1986 to win three consecutive tournaments on the European Tour. The only other player to achieve the feat was Nick Faldo back in 1983. This is one of only two events on the European Tour schedule where more than one course is used during the week – the East and West courses at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC. The other event where multiple courses are used is the Dunhill Links Championship. On Thursday and Friday all the players will complete one round on the East and one round on the West, the final two rounds will take place over the East. Steeped in tradition, the East Course dates back to 1935 and has hosted seven South African Opens. The Joburg Open is one of the youngest on the European Tour, this will be just it’s third running. Sterne came out on top last year beating Garth Mulroy and Magnus A Carlsson in a playoff. In 2007 Ariel Canete of Argentina won the inaugural tournament by two shots from home player Andrew McLardy.

Preview: Mercedes-Benz Championship

Venue: Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC Date: Jan 8-11 Course stats: West Course - par 71, 7,119 yards; East Course – par 71, 7,590 yards Purse: €1,100,000 Defending champion: Richard Sterne (-13)

TV coverage: Thursday 8 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7.30am Friday 9 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7.30am Saturday 10 – Sky Sports 1 at 10.30pm Sunday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 10.30am

Player watch: Richard Sterne – The defending champion is on an incredible run of form and has a chance to make history by becoming only the third player in European Tour history to win three consecutive Tour events. Retief Goosen – A 14-time European Tour winner Goosen will be aiming to return to the form that saw him win the Order of Merit in 2001 and 2002. Gareth Maybin – The rookie from Northern Ireland will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of losing a playoff to Richard Sterne for the South African Open.

Key hole: 11th East Course – It’s a 500 yard par four and the length alone makes it a challenge. But it also requires a straight tee shot then a precise approach over water. It’s a great spectator hole and one where large scores can be racked up. Skills required: Power hitting. At 7,590 yards, the East Course is one of the longest ever to feature on the European Tour. Long, straight drivers are at a distinct advantage here.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?