Two-time defending champion Trevor Immelman is set to try and complete what would be a historic three-peat. The 25-year-old South African has won each of the past two events, first through a playoff win in 2003 and then grabbing a three-shot victory last year.
The South African Airways Open, which was moved to the Durban Country Club this season after being played the last two years at the Erinvale Golf Club, is one of the oldest national opens in the world. Dating back to its first tournament in 1893, the South African Open is second only to the British Open in years played.
If Immelman is able to win yet another title, he would join legendary South Africans Gary Player, Ernie Els and Bobby Locke as players to win their national open at least three times. Player holds the record with 13 South African national titles.
Darren Clarke, coming off a two month absence due in part to care for his wife's illness, is also slated to tee it up. Clarke's wife is battling cancer. Clarke has announced that he is donating any of his winnings from the event to the Tsunami Relief Appeal.
Golf has been placed into perspective after what has happened at home and elsewhere, said Clarke.
The event is co-sanctioned by both the Sunshine (South African) Tour and the European Tour and has a purse of $915,000 with $145,000 going to the winner.
Charl Schwartzel is currently atop the European Order of Merit money list after claiming the Dunhill Championship in early December.