MALALANE, Mpumalanga – There is a definite sense of coming full circle for Thriston Lawrence as he arrived at Leopard Creek for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship looking to continue his form as South Africa’s latest DP World Tour champion.
Lawrence grew up in nearby Mbombela and has a special relationship with Leopard Creek.
“This is a very special place for me. The Alfred Dunhill Championship was the first professional tournament I ever came to support. I remember seeing Ernie Els and all the others win here, and as a young amateur golfer standing next to the green asking for a ball. And to now be here myself is special,” said Lawrence.
The 26-year-old returns this week as one of South African golf’s most exciting talents having won three times on the DP World Tour in the past 13 months and making history as the first South African to win the DP World Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.
Last week he added his name to the list of South African greats when he won the Investec South African Open Championship.
And this week Lawrence finds himself in illustrious company as he tees it up in an Alfred Dunhill Championship field that includes multiple Major winner and former world number one Ernie Els, fellow Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and former Alfred Dunhill Championship winners Branden Grace, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
“It’s very exciting to be here. Everybody wants to get their hands on that leopard trophy,” said Lawrence.
Els is equally excited to be back at a venue he’s always had a special relationship with as the winner of the 2005 Alfred Dunhill Championship, and with South African golf in such a healthy place.
“Seeing Thriston do as well as he has done is great to see. It reminds us of the past players and what other South Africans have done. We have such a rich history in the game in this country and these young players are continuing that. The roots of the game are in place here with the amazing work done by GolfRSA, the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and other foundations such as mine and those of other golfers. Golf is in a good state in South Africa,” he said.