A host of players who have previously impressed at The Open will be among those looking to seal a return to golf’s original Championship at this week’s Joburg Open.
As the first leg of the Open Qualifying Series for 2022, the Joburg Open offers three places in The 150th Open to players finishing in the top 10 and ties, who are not yet exempt.
With only four players in the Joburg Open field already exempt, the vast majority of competitors have an exciting opportunity to book their place at St Andrews next July.
We pick out a few names to watch as the action unfolds over the Firethorn Course at Randpark.
One of the most notable names in the Joburg Open field is Matthias Schmid, the winner of the Silver Medal as the best-performing amateur to make the cut in The 149th Open.
A two-time European Amateur Champion, Schmid turned professional immediately after his encouraging performance at Royal St George’s and has been quick to impress in the paid ranks.
In his final four starts of the 2020-21 European Tour season, the German recorded three top-11 finishes, including a placing of second behind Kristoffer Broberg at the Dutch Open in September.
Schmid will now hope to kick off the new DP World Tour campaign with a strong showing in Johannesburg, particularly with spots available at The 150th Open.
Paul Dunne was a breakout star the last time The Open was held at St Andrews in 2015, as he claimed a share of the 54-hole lead as an amateur.
Although the Irishman – a winner of the British Masters in 2017 - has slipped down the Official World Golf Rankings in recent years, the prospect of playing in another Open at the Home of Golf could well inspire Dunne as he begins his 2021-22 season.
Matteo Manassero, who sensationally tied for 13th in The 138th Open at Turnberry in 2009 to claim the Silver Medal at the age of 16, is another player featuring in Johannesburg this week.
Manassero has played in six Opens, but his last appearance in the Championship was at Royal Troon back in 2016.
Marcel Siem certainly had a July to remember this year.
In the week before The 149th Open, Siem booked his place at Royal St George’s by winning his first Challenge Tour title at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.
He then capitalised on his last-minute qualification for The Open by performing superbly in a Championship that began on his 41st birthday.
Siem was a feature on the leaderboard throughout the week on his way to a tie for 15th and he delighted the Sandwich crowds with some typically passionate celebrations.
Having regained his DP World Tour card for 2022, Siem will now be hoping to earn an immediate return to golf’s original major.
Dean Burmester, Dylan Frittelli, Justin Harding and Shaun Norris are already assured of their places in The 150th Open. Frittelli qualifies through his top-10 finish at Royal St George’s earlier this year, while Burmester and Harding are exempt after finishing in the top 30 of the 2021 Race to Dubai. Norris secured his exemption through his win at the 2021 Japan Open.
In the event of a tie for a qualifying place, the player with the higher ranking in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) at the beginning of the week commencing 22 November will be awarded a place in The 150th Open.
You can find out more about The Open Qualifying Series in our explainer guide, while our Joburg Open event page will keep you up to date with all the action from Randpark.