SSP Chowrasia starts his season in South Africa

George (South Africa): SSP Chowrasia, one of the three Indians to have won more than once on the European Tour, begins the season with renewed hope as he tees up at the Volvo Golf Champions here from Thursday.

The Kolkata professional, who won the Avantha Masters lats year, has not been able to replicate that form. “I have had a loss of form, but I know in golf it can happen. I saw that happen in 2008 after I won the Indian Masters, but things turned around at the start of 2011. This is a great tournament to start in 2012. I am among champions and winners and this field inspires me,” said Chowrasia.

There are just 35 players in this limited field event. Only 2011 and 2012 European Tour winners and those with 10 or more career tournament victories are eligible for the event, which offers a first prize of USD 350,000. There is no cut and the player who finishes last will earn USD 22,000.

The 6,648-metre course is a man-made links, built on the site of a disused airfield, and is renowned as a challenging test of golf. There are five par-fives and the course is par 73.

South Africans will have a huge home advantage and hoping to make use of it will be Ernie Els, the 42-year-old former US and British Open champion, who after a lean spell has slumped to 71 in the world rankings. Two-time Major winner Retief Goosen is also looking to start the year strongly.

The South African challenge includes Major winners 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel. The international field features Thomas Bjorn, 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke, Simon Dyson, Padraig Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson, Colin Montgomerie and 2012 Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal.