Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Justin Rose head up a World-Class Field of Golf Stars for the 2008 South African Open Championship
Lee Westwood, Jeev Milka Singh, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy join the challenge for the world’s second-oldest national Open
Pearl Valley Golf Estates, South Africa: The South African Open Championship, taking place from 18 to 21 December, is to welcome a world-class field of players to Pearl Valley Golf Estates for the 2008 event, it was announced today. European Tour Order of Merit holder Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Jeev Milkha Singh, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy will join a strong field of South African players including Ernie Els and Retief Goosen – as well as, of course, reigning champion James Kingston – to battle it out for the title.
Leisurecorp, the owner of Pearl Valley Golf Estates, today also announced its continued commercial support of the next two South African Open Championships as a minimum. Leisurecorp and Maru Sport, the event promoters, said they have decided to return the tournament to its original name: The South African Open Championship.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai World, Leisurecorp’s parent company, said: “When we acquired Pearl Valley Golf Estates, we promised we would do everything we could to make this one of the greatest courses in the world, which would attract the greatest players. Our investments in the last year have seen real improvements to the course and I think this is a major reason behind the decision of so many great players to join us this year. The South African Open Championship is one of the world’s oldest golf tournaments, and I am delighted we are able to support it so strongly this year.”
David Spencer, Chief Executive – Golf, Leisurecorp, said: “I am over the moon that we are able to welcome such a strong international field to the 2008 South African Open Championship. It is a great recognition of the growing importance of South Africa’s place in the international golf hierarchy and of the growing reputation of Pearl Valley Golf Estates.
And I’m particularly pleased to be able to welcome so many of South Africa’s best golfers back to this year’s event. Ernie Els, who has always been a loyal supporter of the South African Open Championship, was one of the first to register for this year and he is being joined by a really strong field. I am looking forward to more of South Africa’s great golfers signing up for the tournament over the coming weeks.
“One thing’s for sure. This year promises to deliver one of the best South African Open Championships ever.”
With a host of former South African Open champions having gone on to win Majors, most recently Trevor Immelman and his triumph in the Masters, the Championship will continue to develop and deliver the game’s future champions as it has done since 1903.
“We look forward to the opportunity of aligning the Championship even closer to its heritage as we place an even stronger focus on its history and tradition going forward,” said Neale Kunhardt, President of the South African Golf Association (SAGA).
Gareth Tindall, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, and George O’Grady, Chief Executive of the European Tour, which co-sanctions the Championship, both welcomed the announcement as a positive step forward for South African golf.”As second only to The Open Championship in age, the South African Open Championship has its own identity built by years of history and tradition. It remains one of the icons of golf with a continuous ability to attract the biggest names in the game. As such, it remains an integral fixture on the schedules of both tours,” both Tindall and O’Grady agreed.
Mosire Motsei, the Chief Executive of event promoters Maru Sport, said the growth of the Championship has always been strongly aligned to its history and will remain its greatest asset going forward.
“The South African Open Championship is more than able to stand alone as one of the strongest brands in golf based on its impressive pedigree. We can now fully embrace this history and build on it.”
“The decision by South African Airways to restructure its sponsorship portfolio presented the opportunity to reinforce the history and tradition of the South African Open Championship. We have enjoyed a fruitful partnership with South African Airways and we thank them for their support since they took ownership of the Championship in 2002.
“We would also like to acknowledge the support of various partners and suppliers including Airports Company of South Africa, Lexus, Telkom Business, Panasonic Business Systems together with its media partners 567 Cape Talk, the Cape Times and Golf Digest whose involvement and contribution is invaluable.”
Tickets to attend the South African Open Championship are available from Computicket. To find any additional information visit its new website at www.southafricanopen.com