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Scots heading back to South Africa in confident mood

Under a Durban deluge, Scott Jamieson was swinging in the rain just before Christmas.

Scott Jamieson enjoyed success last time he was in Durban   Photograph: Getty
Scott Jamieson enjoyed success last time he was in Durban Photograph: Getty

This week, the European Tour bandwagon rumbles back into South Africa's third-largest city for the Volvo Golf Champions event, an elite gathering of 35 tournament winners, that will usher in the new year.

Who knows what Mother Nature will decide to unleash this time but, as Jamieson proved at the start of December, every cloud has a silver lining. In the first event of the 2013 season, played before 2012 had even finished, Jamieson captured his maiden tour title in the Nelson Mandela Championship which was reduced to 36 holes due to the kind of biblical downpours that would have had Noah working himself into a lather.

Alongside Paul Lawrie and Richie Ramsay, the Aberdeen aces who triumphed on the tour in 2012, and Colin Montgomerie, exempt for the event thanks to his previous plunder during his glory days, Jamieson will form part of a four-strong tartan army in the €2 million contest.

"Having tasted victory, I'd like to think I can throw my name into the ring for a few more events," said Jamieson, who went on to share third in the Alfred Dunhill Championship before the winter shut-down. "Once you get some momentum going, you never know where it will take you."

Lawrie certainly knows a thing or two about momentum. His dazzling form of 2012, illuminated by wins in the Qatar Masters and the Johnnie Walker Championship, carried him all the way to the Ryder Cup and the 1999 Open champion, refreshed after a decent break, will be eager to get cracking again.

"I think, consistency wise, 2012 was my best season and I feel I am getting better with age," admitted the world No 29. "It's how I would have expected to have played after the Open win."

If there is one thing that Lawrie will be keen to improve on in the new campaign, it will be his Major record. Since his Open triumph 14 years ago, the Scot has struggled on the grandest of golfing stages.

A tie for 15th in the 2003 Masters remains his best result in the showpiece events while he has missed the cut in seven Opens since his Carnoustie win with a share of 34th in last season's championship at Lytham the highest finish he has mustered at the world's oldest Major.

Among the other decorated 40-somethings competing in South Africa will be Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and victorious European Ryder Cup skipper Jose Maria Olazabal.

The young guns will be out in force, too. Branden Grace, whose win in this event a year ago was one of four European Tour victories of a sparkling season, defends his crown, while it will be worth keeping an eye on the increasingly impressive Dane Thorbjorn Olesen who scored his breakthrough win in the Sicilian Open last year. He will be one of many to watch in 2013.

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