Rosy Outlook in 2003


Having already started the official season in November, the European Tour kicks off the 2003 calendar year at the South African Airways Open, the second oldest national Open championship in the world.
The tournament will be played at the Erinvale Golf Club in Cape Town, after last years event at The Country Club in Durban. Itll be the first of two events to be played in South Africa, the Dunhill Championships in Johannesburg to follow, and Tim Clark will be back to defend the title he won as a qualifier last year.
Unfortunately, the two biggest names in South African golf will not be on hand, as world No. 3 and No. 5, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, will instead be participating in the PGA Tours lucrative season-opening Mercedes Championship.
Also not in the mix is the current Order of Merit leader, and the worlds No. 8 ranked player, Padraig Harrington.
That leaves the spotlight on the young Englishman Justin Rose, who had his breakout year in 2002, winning four times around the globe. Currently ranked 39th in the world, look for Rose to continue to add to his impressive resume, though four more victories is going to be hard to top.
Lee Westwood and Paul Lawrie are also scheduled to play, as both men try to get their careers headed back in the right direction. Westwood, who hasn't won in over two years, has fallen from a top-10 world ranking all the way down to 183 on the list.
The South African Open was first staged in 1893 and the legendary Gary Player has a whopping 13 trophies to his credit. Player was also the last to successfully defend his title, going all the way back to 1977.