Els expects McIlroy and Stone faceoff

Ernie Els is expecting the BMW SA Open to be a straight shootout between Rory McIlroy and Brandon Stone.

McIlroy will be teeing off in his first event of the year after a superb end to the season, where he won twice and earned two other top ten finishes in his last five outings of 2016.

Meanwhile, defending champion Brandon Stone will be eager to keep the silverware on South African shores.

"Brandon won the last event he played and he's the defending champion here, so he's got a lot of confidence going," said Els, who playing and hosting the event. 

"I think it will be a wonderful match-up if it happens on Sunday. The first two rounds, you're really just playing for position. But they'll be watching each other and obviously Brandon wants to start emulating what Rory's done, so it will be a really good learning curve for him."

In terms of the course, Els is revealed that the Glendower Golf Course is looking in sterling condition, with soft greens likely to lead to many birdies. 

"It's soft and long, especially this morning," added the four-time major winner.

"On the Highveld here, the altitude starts helping in the afternoon. It feels like the air gets thinner.

"It's very thick around the greens, very lush. I've never seen it lush like this. When conditions are soft, the pros really like that. They like to go at the golf course, be very aggressive.

"You'll see a lot of birdies out there and you’ll see some mistakes made also."