Sterne chasing Joburg hat-trick

The 33-year-old is attempting to earn his PGA Tour card this season but has missed the cut in all six events he has played, three at the end of 2014 and three more at the start of this year.

He has, however, performed better on the European Tour with three top-40 finishes from three events and is now looking to make it a hat-trick of wins at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

“My results haven’t been good the last few weeks,” said Sterne, who won the Joburg Open title in 2008 and 2013.

“I need to find my game again and there is no better place than here to start. If I can get healthy and feel good for Thursday I think I can get off to a good start.

“I’ve been working hard at it, but in the last week I’ve been sick and haven’t done any work at all. That hampered stuff, because I was making some changes.

“If I’m hitting it well then I feel like I can do just about anything with the golf ball. It’s been a while since I’ve had that feeling.

“It would be nice to have a round of golf where I hit the ball well, make some putts, and walk off the golf course with a bit confidence. If I can do that then I think it will be a good few weeks.

“I’ve missed six cuts in a row (in America). It’s been a horrendous start for me and I need to keep my card somewhere, so I’m under a bit of pressure with that. I haven’t been playing very well, so that hasn’t made it easier. I’m in a bit of a tricky situation, but I’m looking forward to playing in South Africa.

“I always try to come back and play here. I enjoy the look of the golf courses and I’ve done well here, but I’ve also missed cuts. It’s strange. Hopefully this year I can put myself in contention and if I can then I know that I can shoot low scores around here. I’ve got the game to do it.”

Sterne shot a tournament record of 27 under par in 2013 when he won the event which features the most players of the season in 210 and is played out over two courses.

The first two rounds take place over the East and West Course, with the last two then completed on the East.

Sterne???s compatriot George Coetzee achieved his first victory on the European Tour when he won the tournament last year and secured one of the three qualifying places on offer for The Open.

The 28-year-old went on to finish 18th at Royal Liverpool and is already exempt for this year’s Open at St Andrews, but the majority of the rest of the field will again be chasing those three qualifying places available for anyone finishing in the top 10.

“I was absolutely delighted to qualify for the Open at the Joburg Open last year,” Coetzee said.

“It was a brilliant added bonus that came with the win. It’s a great idea to give guys the opportunity to qualify at Tour events and it means everyone has a lot to play for with places in a major championship at stake.

“It is an amazing experience to play in the Open and I received tremendous support from the galleries at Hoylake. I was pleased to finish in the top 20 and it gives me great confidence for this year. I am really looking forward to playing in my first Open at St Andrews and enjoying the wonderful atmosphere there.”