By Phil Casey
Four days after one season ended, the next will get under way on Thursday with the European Tour breaking new ground at Leopard Creek, South Africa.
With temperatures forecast to reach 40 degrees celsius during the Alfred Dunhill Championship, players have been given permission to wear shorts on competition days for the first time.
England’s Oliver Wilson was among the players to take to social media to praise the decision and the former Ryder Cup player is keen to start the new season with another strong result in Kruger National Park.
Wilson, who was joint fifth last year and finished 66th on the Race to Dubai, said: “The 2019 season went reasonably well so I’m looking forward to the new season and I hope I get a good couple of tournaments in before Christmas.
“This is one of my favourites anywhere in the world. It’s a phenomenal place, one that I’ve been in love with for the last 15 years since I first came down here.
“I played well last year but overall, I haven’t really got into contention very often, so I’d like to rectify that.
“If I play decent, I’ll get into contention. It’s kind of that simple. My game is improving all the time, so if I can play how I have been then I feel confident.
“If I can get it in play off the tee and in positions to be able to be a little bit more aggressive, then that’s the key for me.”
Four-time winner Charl Schwartzel is among the favourites for the title, despite not having played competitively since April due to a wrist injury.
“I haven’t played for eight months,” the former Masters champion said.
“If I was ever going to make a comeback, it was going to be the best place for me to start.
“I’m not 100 per cent, as I would want to be, but I had a few good weeks practising in America, so I thought I’d come down. For me, just to be able to play and walk the fairways and compete, that will be a win.
“It’s a nerve (problem) and once it gets entrapped too much, the probability of my stopping will be very high. But if I can keep it moving, I’ll hold on as long as I can.”