Date: December 10, 2013
Author: Dejan Kalinic, Omnisport

Golfers to honour South African icon Mandela

This year&aposs Nelson Mandela Championship takes on even greater significance when it tees off in Durban on Wednesday.

The death of the former South African president and anti-apartheid advocate last Thursday makes the European Tour event, which benefits the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, even more special.

Branden Grace, one of several South Africans in the field, hopes he can honour Mandela with a win at the Mount Edgecombe Country Club.

"It's kind of bittersweet to be playing in the Nelson Mandela Championship just a week after Madiba's death," he said.

"It's nice to be able to go and support something like that and the great cause that it supports.

"It's not a happy time in South Africa, so it's nice to be able to be in a position where I can go and support the tournament. I hope that the guys come out to do justice to his name.

"He always talked about excellence, and it's good to try and show that in action. He was such an ambassador for the country – for the whole world, as well, really – and his memory will live on forever."

Grace is a four-time winner on the European Tour, but the last of those victories came in October 2012 – the year he claimed all his wins.

Scotland's Scott Jamieson returns to defend the title he won in a play-off at the Royal Durban Golf Club.

The start of the tournament was pushed forward to Wednesday, ending on Saturday, with Mandela's state funeral on Sunday.

George Coetzee, Darren Fichardt, Garth Mulroy, Thomas Aiken and Jaco van Zyl are among the other South Africans considered a good chance of winning the event.

In-form Welshman Stuart Manley should also threaten.

Manley finished tied for second at the Hong Kong Open on Sunday after losing a three-man play-off to Miguel Angel Jimenez.

But South Africans should dominate the leaderboard as they look to honour the death of their former president.