South African Open plans to return to Serengeti

Jack Nicklaus’ award-winning design at Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate on the edge of Johannesburg will again host next year’s South African Open golf championship. This was confirmed by tournament director Khaya Ngqula during the third round of the 2011 championship played last month.

Ngqula said Serengeti proved to be an excellent venue.

“This course was built to stage major championships,” he said. “It is in excellent condition and will become a better test. Bringing the SA Open here is in keeping with our aim to take the event to the next level.

“There is no reason why the SA Open can’t become the fifth Major. It is older than 100 years, it has a legacy and some of its champions are some of the greatest players in the history of the game. South Africa has an exceptional heritage as a golfing nation, we have wonderful depth, superb golf courses and, you know, we live in an endless summer.

“Our aim is to tap into all these positives and, in partnership with our stakeholders – local golfers, the Sunshine Tour, national and provincial governments and sponsors – to use the SA Open to present our country and our golf to the world.”

The pros echoed Ngqula’s praise for the course. Former US Open and British Open champion Ernie Els raved that Serengeti “is a world-class facility…Jack has built an excellent course here.”
South African professional golfer Ulrich van den Berg said, “I have played in 14 South African Opens and this is by far the best in every aspect.”

Former South African golfer Dale Hayes mirrored the same sentiments about Serengeti: “It must be one of the best venues on the European tour schedule.”

This year’s event has multiple major championship winners in Els and Retief Goosen and hopes to attract other globally known South African major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in the near future.

“This championship is so dear to the hearts of South Africa’s players that Ernie Els even threatened to withdraw from the President’s Cup if it was played opposite the South African Open,” Ngqula said. “That’s how big it is.”

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