Golf | 6 SA golfers flying the flag high at Shinnecock Hills

New York – The 118th US Open gets under way at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York on Thursday.

The last time the US Open was held at Shinnecock Hills – in 2004 – South Africa’s Retief Goosen went on to secure his second major title.

This year there will be SIX South Africans in the field.

The only South African of that sextuplet to have won the US Open is Ernie Els, who triumphed in 1994 and 1997.

Sport24 takes a look at the golfers who will fly the SA flag:

1. Ernie Els

Age – 48

World ranking – 696

Best US Open – Winner (1994, 1997)

Els received an exemption to play at this year’s US Open from the USGA.

Despite not being in his prime, the ‘Big Easy’ certainly knows what it takes to win a US Open title having lifted the coveted trophy in 1994 at Oakmont and 1997 at Congressional.

This year sees Els competing in his 26th consecutive US Open – the most by any active player in the field.

Els tees off alongside American Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk and vice-captain Steve Stricker in Round 1 at 19:36 (SA time) on Thursday.

2. Branden Grace

Age – 30

World ranking – 33

Best US Open – T4th

Looking ahead to this week’s Major, Grace is probably the South African to back given his run in previous US Opens and his current form.

Grace, who recently became a father, finished tied for third at the Byron Nelson tournament in Texas last month.

Last year’s US Open at Erin Hills saw a disappointing performance from Grace, as he finished T50th. This year he’ll be hoping for some improvement.

Grace tees off in Round 1 alongside Englishman Paul Casey and Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira at 13:40 (SA time).

3. Louis Oosthuizen

Age – 35

World ranking – 34

Best US Open – T2 

Oosthuizen heads into the US Open as the top-ranked South African golfer.

The 2010 Open Championship winner is in good form heading into Shinnecock, finishing tied for fifth and T15 in his last two PGA Tour events.

Oosthuizen was the top South African golfer at the Masters at Augusta National in April.

He has been paired in Round 1 with American Jimmy Walker and Englishman Justin Rose, teeing off at 13:29 (SA time).

4. Charl Schwartzel

Age – 33

World ranking – 44

Best US Open – 7th

Schwartzel looks to have regained his form after an indifferent 2017 season.

The 2011 Masters champion has delivered three top 10 finishes in his last five PGA Tour events including a T2 at the Players Championship.

Schwartzel failed to make the cut for the weekend at last year’s US Open at Erin Hills. Hopefully this year it’ll be a different story.

He tees off in Round 1 with Masters champion Patrick Reed and American Zach Johnson at 13:51 (SA time).

5. Dylan Frittelli

Age – 28

World ranking – 61

Best US Open – Debut

The talented Frittelli is the latest South African golfer to hit the big stage.

The two-time European Tour winner will look to his form of last year for inspiration as he achieved a career-best ranking of 44 in February.

Playing in his first US Open this week, Frittelli will be hoping for an upset and to climb the leaderboard in New York.

Frittelli tees off alongside Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas and amateur Doug Ghim in Round 1 at 13:18 (SA time).

6. Dean Burmester

Age – 29

World ranking – 114

Best US Open – Debut

Burmester is the only South African golfer who played his way into the US Open field after qualifying at the US Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath last week.

He is another prospering talent after romping to his maiden European Tour win at the Tshwane Open last year.

Burmester will play his first ever Major tournament at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club this week and will hope to continue his ever-improving form.

He tees off in Round 1 with Americans Sam Burns and Brian Gay at 18:30 (SA time).

Images: Gallo/AP/Getty

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