South African Open: Four Scots involved as 2017 European Tour resumes

David Drysdale
Scotland's David Drysdale ended 2016 in good form

The 2017 European Tour resumes on Thursday with the BMW South African Open.

It 'resumes' because three of this season's eligible tournaments were actually held in December - South Africa's Alfred Dunhill Championship, the Australian PGA Championship and the UBS Hong Kong Open.

But a five-week break from competition definitely makes this feel like the launch-pad for this year's tour.

Here's a few key things to note about the next few days.

Glendower Golf Club
Glendower Golf Club in Ekurhuleni hosts the SA Open

Where is it?

The SA Open will be held at Glendower Golf Club in the municipality of Ekurhuleni, just east of Johannesburg.

It is the second oldest national championship in the world, having started in 1893, and only the Open Championship (1860) has been around for longer.

Who won it last year?

Home favourite Brandon Stone bagged his maiden European Tour victory at Glendower in 2016.

The 23-year-old, who was born in Rustenburg and lives in Pretoria, clinched it by a two-stroke margin and became the youngest winner of the event since it joined the European Tour in 1997.

Brandon Stone
Stone won on home soil last year

Any Scots playing in it?

Yes. Four of them.

Edinburgh-born Berwickshire man David Drysdale ended 2016 in decent form and finished 79th in the Race to Dubai rankings.

Drysdale, 41, tees off at 05:20 GMT alongside 23-year-old Scottish amateur Craig Ross, who has a spot at Glendower because of a win at the South African Amateur Championship last year.

A top 10 placing in the 2016 Challenge Tour's order of merit means Grantown on Spey's Duncan Stewart, 32, plays this week and he tees off at 06:10 on Thursday.

Clydebank's Scott Henry, who regained his European Tour card at qualifying school in Spain in November, plays in his first tournament since getting married over Christmas. The 29-year-old tees off at 05:30.

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Q&A with Scottish golfer Scott Henry

Other Scots, like Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren, wait until next week's Abu Dhabi Championship to start their 2017 campaigns.

Big names?

World number two Rory McIlroy plays at the SA Open for the first time since 2009 to fulfil a promise made to event host Ernie Els, who in turn had supported McIlroy's Irish Open last summer.

Four-time major winner McIlroy starts his first round with defending champion Stone at 05:10. Els begins at 04:50.

Sir Nick Faldo, 59, makes his first appearance at a regular European Tour event since 2014 and gets under way at 09:50.

There's also 2016's Team Europe Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke teeing off at 05:30.

What's up for grabs?

The prize pot at Glendower equates to almost £900,000, with the winner taking approximately £142,500.

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