This week the European Tour moves on to South Africa for the Joburg Open, this is the fourth of six South African events on the 2013 schedule. After a successful middle east swing where low scoring was on show including numerous rounds in the very low 60’s mostly at last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic where Scot Stephen Gallagher was the winner after a final round of 71 which was good enough to give him a 3 shot victory over South African Richard Sterne.
The Joburg Open was first played in 2007 and from the outset it has been co-sanctioned between the South African Sunshine Tour and the European Tour. This week is slightly different to most weeks in the fact that two courses are used and around 200 players play the first two rounds before the cut is made with the top 65 and ties playing the last two rounds over the weekend.
The tournament is being staged at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club in Johannesburg the largest city in South Africa. Both the East and West courses are being used the first two days, with the East being used for the last two rounds. The West course was built in 1909 and the East wasn’t added until 1935 when some extra land was bought from a farm to the east of the clubhouse. The East course took 2 years to construct with the Professional Robert Grimsdell carrying out the work, after the course was built Grimsdell also constructed a new clubhouse located centrally between the courses and this was finished in 1939. The Club is down to a merger between the former Royal Johannesburg Golf Club and the former Kensington Golf Club which took place in 1998. This is the first merger of its kind in South Africa and improvements were made to both courses and the clubhouse using money raised from the sale of the land of the Kensington Golf Club.
Since the tournament was first played in 2007 each year a South African has finished either as winner or runner up, showing that local knowledge is a key to success this week. Who would bet against another home winner this week, can Branden Grace defend the title he won last year which was the first of four wins on the 2012 European Tour schedule for the then rookie, he has been in fine form of late with 3 top 10’s in his last 3 events and the week is sure to bring back many good memories for him and another win would be no surprise to anyone.