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Young stars to appear at South African Open

England's Justin Rose and South Africa's Trevor Immelman, two of Europe's most exciting young talents, are set to tee it up when the European Tour continues next year with the co-sanctioned South African Airways Open Championship from January 9-12.

Sunshine Tour CEO Louis Martin confirmed on Monday that both golfers had confirmed that they would be playing in the world's second oldest national open — this time at the undulating Gary Player-designed Erinvale GC outside Cape Town, where Ernie Els and Wayne Westner won the 1996 World Cup of Golf.

The two arguably raised their ever-growing golfing profiles higher than any other European Tour young gun this year, including such stand-outs as Australia's Adam Scot and Aaron Baddeley, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and England's Paul Casey, who'll be joining Rose in representing England in this week's WGC-EMC World Cup.

Rose, who won four tournaments around the world this year and was going like a steam-train until temporally derailed by the premature death of his father from cancer, will be returning to the tour that truly launched his professional career.

He first made a name for himself, of course, when, as a 17 year old, he holed a famous approach shot that enabled him to finish fourth in the 1998 Open Championship, but his first year as a professional was deeply humiliating as he missed one cut after another.

He was never really successful after that until he arrived in South Africa to play on last season's Sunshine tour.

In quick time the South African-born Englishman had won the Dunhill Championship and the Nashua Masters, and with his confidence boosted went on to claim first prize in the European Tour's Victor Chandler British Masters.

He also had a third in the Deutsche Bank SAP Open, a joint sixth in the Compass Group English Open, a 5th in the Barclays Scottish Open, a joint 6th in the TNT Open, and another 5th in the World Golf Championships NEC Invitational, featuring the leading players from both the US and European tours.

Rose eventually finished ninth on the 2002 Volvo Order of Merit (won by Retief Goosen ahead of Padraig Harrington), and was named the European Tour's Asprey Golfer of the Month both in January and May.

Rose was also in contention for last season's South African Order of Merit title, but went down in the closing stages to South Africa's US tour professional Tim Clark when Clarke won the 2002 South African Open.

Immelman, a former schoolboy champion, both at home and in the US, who beat Ernie Els to win the SA Players Championship two yeatrs ago, was unable to win any European Tour events this year.

But he came close, piling up European Tour order of merit points and enhancing his bank balance with earnings of more than a million Euros with second-place finishes in the Novotel Perrier Open de France, the Volvo Scandinavian Masters, and the Omega European Masters.

He finished 14th in the 2002 Volvo Order of Merit, and on a home course where he cut his teeth golf wise, he is going to be a real threat to the field.

"Trevor and Justin are among the finest young players in the game today and it's a huge coup for us to have them both playing in the South African Airways Open Championship," said Martin.

"They are both very exciting players and I'm sure the South African galleries will appreciate seeing their talents at Erinvale."

Erinvale is already preening itself for the tournament.

Club officials say the rough is being allowed to grow substantially and, combined with the infamous Cape South Easter that can sweep non-stop for days across the Cape Peninsula and surrounding areas, "it could make for a stern test".


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