First held in 1903, the South African Open is amongst the oldest national golf tournaments in the world. The prestigious event has been one of the flagship tournaments on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour for decades and was co-sanctioned by the European Tour for the first time in 1997. South African golfers boast an outstanding record in their home event – none more so than the legendary Gary Player, who recorded a remarkable 13 successes between 1956 and 1981.
Traditionally taking place in December, the tournament has visited a variety of courses over the years, including the Serengeti Golf Club, Glendower Golf Club, and Ranpark Golf Club, before moving to the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate in 2022. Designed by Gary Player, this beast of a course is the longest in South Africa at over 7,500m. Rewarding power and accuracy from the tee, the baking South African sun ensures that this is a test of both the physical and mental capabilities of the field.
|2022||Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate||Thriston Lawrence|
2022: Thriston Lawrence
Thirston Lawrence held his nerve best of all in what ultimately proved to be a nerve-wracking conclusion to the 2022 South Africa Open. Seemingly in cruise control headed into the back nine, a nightmare run of five dropped shots in as many holes saw Lawrence clawed back by Frenchman Clement Sordet.
Dead level headed into the 17th, the momentum appeared to lie firmly with Sordet, but it was he who wavered when it mattered most – ultimately sealing his fate when failing to sink a short-putt at the penultimate hole. In the end, a par, par finish was good enough for the 26-year-old South African native to finish on 16 under and realise a boyhood dream, as he hung on for a one-shot victory from Sordet, with Jens Fahring of Sweden a shot further back in third.
This was the third success in what has been a golden year or so for Lawrence. Breaking his duck in the Joburg Open on home soil in November 2021, he followed up with a success at the Omega Masters in Switzerland in August 2022. 2023 could be a big year for the man now ranked a career-best 64th in the world.