Norfolk golfer Andrew Marshall hoping to improve in South African Joburg Open
Norfolk's Andrew Marshall is hoping three new clubs will help spur his Joburg Open challenge which starts on Thursday.
Marshall finished in a tie for 47th place in the African Open last week, a tournament which saw him shoot some mixed rounds in what was his first European Tour event since winning his card last month.
The 38-year-old from Dereham carded an impressive 65 on the second day to make the cut having started with a disappointing 74. He said: 'The first round went well tee to green but I missed loads of chances and three-putted twice towards the end of the 18 so I was really unhappy with 74 and when my first round position text came through to see I was 136th I was very depressed.
'But, I knew if I could avoid the bunkers, I hit six traps on day one, and putt well I could go low, so I remained hopeful. Shooting a 65 was immensely satisfying and I knew I there could be more to come. After 69 on Saturday I was in a good position to make a big move on Sunday,' added Marshall, who unfortunately could only manage a 73. 'I played fantastic on Sunday tee to green, I missed just two greens on a breezy day but paid the price and missed so many birdie putts I could have cried!'
Armed with a new driver, three wood and rescue club Marshall is confident of improvement this week.
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'Practise in Joburg has gone well and I can't wait to get started this week. Both courses are in superb condition and there are a few 'big boys' making the trip this week before they all go and play the Middle East swing, which sadly for me I won't get to play this year.'
One of the big boys is Charl Schwartzel who will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories when he launches the defence of his title. The Johannesburg-born Schwartzel won the title at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington by six shots in 2010. He followed it up last year with a consistently top-class effort when he fired four rounds in the 60s, including a second-round 61, to finish four strokes clear of compatriot Garth Mulroy.
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Should Schwartzel make it a hat-trick he would become one of only six players, alongside Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, to win the same European Tour event three years in a row.
For the 27-year-old, familiarity will be an advantage at the 1.3 million euros tournament.
He said: "I've always got a good feel when I go back there and always enjoy playing the Joburg Open. I get to play a tournament and stay at home in my own bed, which is very cool.'
Leading the challenge will be fellow South African Retief Goosen, who last week finished third behind Louis Oosthuizen in the Africa Open.