S African Golf Donald Uncovered


Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on thegolfchannel.com with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
The Next Generation of South African Superstars
In 10 years time, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will be moving on toward the senior circuit, coming to the end of their tenure at the top of world of golf. Step-in the new generation of South African superstars, namely Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne and Anton Haig.
Schwartzel has already established himself on the European Tour, winning the 2005 dunhill championship and recently deciding to skip the WGC Accenture Matchplay in order to capture his third successive Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title, matching the record of Mark McNulty. Sterne already has a victory of his own on the European Tour, winning the Open de Madrid in 2004; at 25, hes three years older than Schwartzel and five years the senior of Haig, but he most certainly fits into the category of young players to watch. Finally, Haig added his name to the list with his victory at the Johnnie Walker Classic last week. Haig was a promising amateur before turning professional at the tender age of 18, but he confirmed it was a good decision with a win at the Asian Tours Pulai Springs Malaysia Masters last season and now hes a European Tour winner.
Donald Uncovered
For those of you who saw our Spotlight on Sunday evenings Golf Central Primetime you will have seen my interview with Luke Donald, his fianc Diane and brother Christian. We were lucky to see another side of the English superstar, and it was a great pleasure spending some time with the three of them down in Palm Beach Gardens. The interview was shot in the brand new Ralph Lauren store during an event to promote Donalds venture into clothing design. Hes been associated with the company for a number of years and now they are involving him in their design process. He takes more of a consultancy role than actually designing the garmets, but Donald tells me it's something he feels is important.
Despite the clothing design and his passion for art, the 29-year-old is still very focused on golf; but hell be taking a break from the tour in June when he weds longtime girlfriend Diane Antonopoulos in a ceremony in Greece. The pair will honeymoon in Italy. Donald met Diane when he was in his final year at Northwestern; she was still only a freshman and admits shed never heard of his legacy on the golf course. Having lived together for three years, Donald told me he was ready to make the next step and we certainly wish them all the very best.
Rushing for Glory
Englishman Ed Rush has silently made his way into the rookie-of-the-year race on the European Tour. The man from Sussex, who spent time as an assistant professional at the East Sussex National Golf Club, former home of the European Open, has already had some stellar finishes on the tour. He came home tied for 11th in his first outing of the season at the Dunhill Championship and then added a tie for sixth at the Joburg Open. The 27-year-old, whos a winner on the Challenge Tour, is currently spending a few weeks in Florida with coach Jonathan Yarwood preparing for the meat of the season. Rush obtained the 30th card at the Q-school so hes made the most of his limited early season starts. His next outing will be the Maderia Island Open in March.
Fulke Hangs-Up the Spikes
Swedens Pierre Fulke has announced his retirement from the game. The 2002 Ryder Cup team member has been plagued by injuries lately, limiting him to just three starts on the tour in 2006. He will now devote his time to other interests including his course design business.
Tom Abbott will host the LPGA Tours Mastercard Classic Honouring Alejo Peralta this week, live coverage begins on Friday at 5:30 p.m. GMT on The GOLF CHANNEL UK (Sky Digital Channel 423)
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