‘Old man’ Thriston Lawrence leads SA young bucks at US Open

Thriston Lawrence is ranked 103 in the world. Picture: CJ Gunther EPA

Thriston Lawrence is ranked 103 in the world. Picture: CJ Gunther EPA

Published Jun 14, 2023


Centurion - He may be just 26-years-old, but Thriston Lawrence is the senior campaigner among the South African players teeing it up at the US Open starting in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Lawrence, a three-time winner on the DP World Tour, is three years senior to the pair of 23-year-olds Deon Germishuys and Wilco Nienaber. Completing the SA contingent in the US Open field is 18-year-old amateur Aldrich Potgieter.

Lawrence is the SA number three at 103rd on the world rankings at the moment, with Christiaan Bezuidenhout (78th) and Dean Burmester (88th) not playing this week.

Veterans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel are also notable absentees as their world rankings have plummeted since their switch to LIV Golf. Oosthuizen in particular has watched in horror as his world ranking has dropped from 50th at the beginning of the year to his current position of 285th. Also in the same boat is former world number 10 Branden Grace, as he is now ranked 345th.

As for Lawrence, he is the current SA Open champion after his triumph in December but he is yet to record a top-10 finish in 2023 He also comes into the US Open off the back of a missed cut at The Colonial. It will also be his debut at the US Open, but it will be the third different major that he has teed it up in, as he racks up experience.

Nienaber, meanwhile, has the potential to fare well this week - purely due to his incredible length off the tee. He is the current driving distance leader on the DP World Tour this season, as he averages 338 yards (309m) off the tee. Normally though, length off the tee alone doesn’t tend to pay off at the US Open. However, Bryson DeChambeau showed that smashing huge drives at the cost of accuracy can sometimes pay off - as he triumphed at the US Open in 2020.

The big-hitting Nienaber has a second place finish on the DP World Tour this season, which came in Abu Dhabi, and two other top 10 finishes this season. It will also be the second time Nienaber has played in a major, having finished 68th at the US Open on his major debut in 2021.

Germishuys will be making his major debut, and at 228th on the world rankings - few will expect much from him this week. However, as a Sunshine Tour event winner he has the potential to not only make the cut but to relish the experience as a big future is predicted for the young South African.

The youngest SA player in the field will be teenager Potgieter. Potgieter won the 2022 Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, which booked his spot at the Masters.

Though he missed the cut at Augusta on his major debut and again at The Memorial, he will surely also be focussed on soaking up the experience with the best players in the world. He may not yet have the game to be around for the weekend, but he certainly won’t believe that.


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