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Paarl - Pearl Valley Golf Estate

Swinging into history

The South African Open was first held in 1893 and is the second oldest national open golf championship in the world; only the Open Championship, also known as the British Open, is older. Since 2003, the tournament is sponsored by the national airline. The tournament is often associated with the careers of some of the best players, including South African golf stars such as Els, Goosen and the legendary Gary Player.

"Winning a national Open is always special, but winning the South African Open is even more special," said Ernie Els, who won the tournament in 2006. "It is the second oldest national open golf championship, and has a glorious history. It is an indescribable feeling when you play at home. "

Development of the Open

The South African Open is closely linked to the development of the game in South Africa. The first golf club in South Africa was the Cape Golf Club which was founded in 1885. The game became more popular and it was decided on this course in 1892 to organize a national championship in which both amateurs and professionals took part.

In 1893 the professional players decided to hold their own SA Open. In 1903, by now a good number of professionals in the country, it was decided that the SA Open event had to be a full 'stroke play'. Laurie Waters was the first champion; he subsequently won the editions of 1904, 1907 and 1920.

Modern golf stars

In the modern era, however, the tournament was dominated by two young players: Trevor Immelman and Tim Clarke. The latter won twice, in 2002 and 2005, while Immelman, won in 2003 and 2004, and was the first golfer since Gary Player in 1976/1977 who managed to successfully defend his title.

Perfect player

It's no surprise that Gary Player, arguably the best South African golfer of all time, has the most wins in the SA Open to his credit; He gathered the incredible number of 13 titles, and shares with Bobby Locke's record of five consecutive victories. Locke is still the youngest winner of the Open; he achieved the first of his nine victories in 1935, at the tender age of 17.

Global glory

Players from other parts of the world now also have put their mark on this event, although only six players managed to win the trophy in our modern era. The victory by Vijay Singh in 1997 was a rare triumph for a foreign player, and could add his name and a list which also adorns a man from Fiji to of the name of Englishman Tommy Horton (1970), the New Zealander Bob Charles (1973), Americans Charlie Bolling (1983) and Fred Wadsworth (1989) and Swede Mathias Grönberg (2000).

The South African Airways Open is played for the second consecutive time in December 2008 at the Jack Nicklaus designed Pearl Valley Golf Estates. Golf fans from around the world are preparing now for what is yet another dramatic and what promises to be an exciting championship.

Second photo by Grant Levershal, with permission and © Maru Sport.

Links:

    General information and history of the event: www.saaopen.com
    Information about the location and layout of the track: www.pearlvalley.co.za
    More about golf in South Africa: www.pgatour.co.za
    Official sponsorship and marketing of the SAA Open: www.maru.co.za

 Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist.