Joburg Open Preview

Joburg Open Preview
For the final European Tour event of the calendar year, we head back to South Africa where Louis Oosthuizen heads the field at the Joburg Open.
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Brooks Koepka fought through some wrist issues in his latest start at the Hero World Challenge but is hopeful a little rest over the holidays will clear that right up.

Doug Ferguson of the AP reported that Koepka was dealing with wrist issues during the Hero World Challenge, where he went on to finish dead last with a four-day tally of 3-over 291. Given it was an exhibition, Koepka was able to take it easy for the week and collect a nice paycheck. The fact that he didn't back out of the event bodes well for the severity of this injury. The 27-year-old is coming off a career year that saw him collect his first major championship and produce a career high in earnings ($5,612,397). Gamers should keep their eye out for any more news concerning the wrist, but otherwise, Koepka should be in line for another stellar year come 2018.
Dec 11 - 1:21 PM

Dominic Bozzelli had his rookie season cut short due to injury and he didn't peg it during the fall schedule. He is hopeful for a strong return in 2018.

Bozzelli finished 115th in the FedExCup standings, despite shutting it down after the RBC Canadian Open in late July. He reappeared in late August to provide the following message to his fans via Twitter, "Disappointed to end my PGA TOUR season with an injury & have to miss the playoffs... I'm looking forward to coming back stronger in 2017-18." There is no timeline for his return but gamers should certainly circle the inaugural Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in mid-March since Bozzelli won this event back in 2016 when it was still on the Web.com Tour schedule.
Dec 11 - 12:00 PM

Kevin Stadler will enter 2018 with 26 starts on a Major Medical Extension, needing 454.42 FedExCup Points or $717,890 to retain his status.

Stadler's latest start on the big stage came at the 2015 John Deere Classic. He shut it down after that, and he's been dealing with bone fractures in his hand. After a lot of mystery regarding his status, Stadler finally popped back up at this year's Digital Ally Open (Web.com Tour event). That tournament took place at the end of July and Stadler opened with a 1-over 72 before withdrawing mid-tournament. Despite the WD, it is still a promising sign that we may see a return to the PGA TOUR in 2018.
Dec 11 - 11:51 AM

Marcus Armitage earned a first European Tour top five finish with a final lap of 2-under-par 36-34=70 at Randpark Golf Club, good for a total of 15-under 272 in the Joburg Open.

The Englishman was never in the hunt for the title after Shubhankar Sharma's sublime skills set him free of the field, but after a rookie season which saw him lose his card at 152nd on the Race to Dubai he needed a solid start to the new campaign and he's got it. He was T15 in the Australian PGA Championship and this result improves on his T10 in the 2017 Open de Portugal as his ET best. On Sunday his only move away from par was a birdie-bogey exchange at 4 and 5. Returning Monday morning he ticked 13 and 16 to earn a result which should give him hope for 2018. That said his category will allow him very limited opportunities, but he's started as well as he could have hoped.
Dec 11 - 4:49 AM

Tapio Pulkkanen ended a successful 2017 with T3 in the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club, completing a 4-under-par 35-33=68 for a 72-hole total of 17-under 270, six swings back of winner Shubhankar Sharma.

The Finnish winner of the 2017 Challenge Tour has got his main tour rookie campaign off to a bright starts after the blip of a missed cut in Hong Kong. On Sunday he made birdies at 3 and 5 with a bogey in the middle. Returning Monday morning he needed something special on the back nine to disrupt the exceptional Sharma and although he ticked a hat-trick at 14, 15 and 16 it was not enough. Most cruelly he was tied third and the unlucky man to miss out on the three Open Championship spots.
Dec 11 - 4:42 AM

Shaun Norris collected a European Tour career best tie for third in the Joburg Open, earned with a final round of 7-under-par 33-32=65 for a total of 17-under 270, six back of winner Shubhankar Sharma at Randpark Golf Club.

The 35-year-old has made just three top tens in 72 ET starts and improves on T8 which he managed in the 2011 Africa Open and 2014 Alfred Dunhill Championship. It's not a surprise on form however. He won on the Japan Tour in June (Tour Championship), was second there last week (Nippon Series JT Cup) and this is his fifth top six finish in seven starts. He played ten holes on Sunday, ticking 3 and 4, then 7 and 8, with a cross against No. 6 in-between. On Monday morning he was one of the few to get the ball rolling. He made four birdies at 12, 14, 17 and 18 for his lowest lap since a 64 confirmed the win in Japan. He also earned a spot in the 2018 Open (he was T62 at Royal Birkdale including a R3 66).
Dec 11 - 4:28 AM

Erik Van Rooyen can holiday with a smile on his face after his final round of 6-under-par 31-35=66 confirmed solo second in the Joburg Open on 20-under 267 at Randpark Golf Club, three back of winner Shubhankar Sharma.

The South African was at an advantage all week as a Johannesburg resident and as a European Tour rookie he needs to make the most of every edge he can gain. With that in mind he opted out of the Mauritius Open after missing the cut in Hong Kong, specifically to get his game set for the Randpark challenge. The decision paid off as he was superb all week and in the interrupted final round he was the only chaser who got close to the superb Sharma. On Sunday he ticked 3, 4, 5 and 7 before playing a wonderful wedge to kick-in range seconds ahead of the hooter sounding. On Monday morning he converted the par breaker only to see Sharma do the same. Van Rooyen managed one birdie on the back nine, but it was not enough. The consolation was a spot in the 2018 Open Championship. He finished three shots clear of Shaun Norris and Tapio Pulkkanen in a share of third.
Dec 11 - 4:17 AM

Shubhankar Sharma completed a sensational victory in the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club, his interrupted final round of 3-under-par 33-36=69 leaving him three shots clear of second placed Erik Van Rooyen on 23-under 264 for a maiden European Tour title.

It was a five day masterclass from the unheralded 21-year-old Indian who had eight Asian Tour top tens in his log book, but only one in his last 15 starts. Apparently un-fazed he played the final 54 holes without one bogey, burst clear of the field with a middle 36 holes of 17-under, played eight solid holes on Sunday in 2-under (birdies at 2 and 6), was subjected to five hours of weather disruption and an extra night of contemplation, before he returned to the course Monday morning knowing nearest challenger Van Rooyen had a kick-in birdie waiting which would bring him within three. Sharma's response? He made birdie there himself, on his first hole of the day, and followed with nine back nine pars to seal the seal as Van Rooyen added only one more birdie. There was an extra prize up for grabs in the form of one of three Open Championship spots. A five-time winner on the Indian Tour, this was some way to announce himself to the rest of the world.
Dec 11 - 4:08 AM
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