Sterne seeing double

RICHARD Sterne has set his sights on becoming the first back-to-back winner of the South African Open Championship since Trevor Immelman in 2003-04, when he defends his title in the 99th edition of the second oldest national Open at Pearl Valley Golf Estates from December 17 to 20.

RICHARD Sterne has set his sights on becoming the first back-to-back winner of the South African Open Championship since Trevor Immelman in 2003-04, when he defends his title in the 99th edition of the second oldest national Open at Pearl Valley Golf Estates from December 17 to 20.

Sterne will anchor a superb cast of young stars in the quest to again win one of the most coveted titles in South African golf.

"Winning the South African Open Championship last year was a defining moment in my career," said Sterne, whose victory capped a summer of back-to-back victories when he edged out Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin at the first extra hole.

"For most of us the majors are our biggest focus, but for me personally it has always been a dream and a goal to win our national Open."

In 2004, Immelman became only the seventh golfer in the history of the South African Open to successfully defend his title with a three-stroke victory at Erinvale Golf Club.

Sterne said that while watching Immelman's triumph, and others when he was younger, he always imagined it would be a defining moment of his career to stand in front of a South African gallery as the winner of the SA Open.

"As a young South African golfer, it's one of the most prestigious titles you can win. It's almost unbelievable to see your name engraved on that trophy alongside names such as [Sid] Brews, [Bobby] Locke and [Gary] Player - they were the pioneers of SA golf.

"And players such as Mark McNulty, David Frost, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen - Tim (Clark), Trevor (Immelman) and I grew up watching them. "They were our role models, and to see your name their alongside theirs is an incredible feeling," Sterne said. - Sapa

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