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Golf | SA

‘Charl, Louis are Masters contenders’



Gary Player believes defending champion Charl Schwartzel and fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen are serious contenders at this week's Masters at Augusta National.

Player, one of only five men to win all four Majors, said the new crop of South African players could hold their own against the world's best.

"There are a host of guys, including Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion from South Africa, who I expect to be in contention," Player wrote in his blog on the Laureus Sports Awards website.

"Charl is a very consistent golfer and that's the hallmark of a champion. It would not surprise me to see him excel. You know Charl will play well most of the time.

"Charl and Louis Oosthuizen, who won the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews, are the latest in a new wave of South African golfers of whom I am very proud."

Player said it was no surprise that the country produced talent like Oosthuizen and Schwartzel as South Africa had the right climate, fantastic courses and great junior programmes.

Player, however, tipped Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy to wear the green jacket on Sunday.

"I have to favour Rory McIlory this year," Player said.

"You remember last year he was playing so well and was leading and he had that collapse in the final round with an 80.

"I think Rory has a little revenge in his heart for the golf course.

"The way he recovered from that upset at the US Open a couple of months later showed what maturity he has.

"The disappointment might have seriously affected a less mentally strong young man."

Player also felt Tiger Woods's recent victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational would make him a force at the first Major tournament of the year, which starts on Thursday.

"Tiger Woods played extremely well when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational the week before last," Player said.

"It's the first time I've seen him drive the ball well in a long time."

Player said Woods's knowledge of the course would make him hard to beat at Augusta.

"He's confident and he's had a tough time for two years and he's very hungry. I expect him to do extremely well."

He said Woods, however, would have a tough field to contend with, including world No 1 Luke Donald and a consistent Lee Westwood.

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