The Vodacom Origins of Golf begins in St Francis Bay today (27 September 2018) at the Links Golf Course.
Lets look at what to expect:
The last time the Sunshine Tour came to St Francis, Doug McGuigan was red hot.
Not only did he pick up his second win of last season, but his two-stroke victory over Hennie du Plessis here also marked McGuigan’s second Vodacom Origins of Golf title for the season. His first came at Highland Gate.
In its 15th season in 2018, the Vodacom Origins of Golf series has produced over 50 different champions along the way and while Zander Lombard, Peter Karmis and Neil Schietekat have already claimed the first three tournaments in the current season, there are still two more events before the final at Pinnacle Point.
The tournament is 54 holes of stroke play. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 40 professionals and ties.
Doug McGuigan is the defending champion, having defeated Hennie du Plessis by two strokes on a total of 13-under-par 203 last season.
St Francis Links:
A Jack Nicklaus signature course, the Links will challenge all who play it and reward those who respect it. The layout combines every element of shot-making with its undulating terrain, greens and surrounds as well as its variation in length and direction.
The bunkers look as though they have been simply ploughed out of the land.
The greens have simply been placed on top of the sand and follow the natural flow of the landscape. All players will find that St Francis Links present a stiff mental and physical test from the first shot.
The fairways are long, immaculate and the greens superbly manicured. The layout is well-bunkered and has ample water hazards to keep even the best golfer on their toes.
The course is surrounded by indigenous shrub, outlying dunes and a host of wildlife with views that overlook the picturesque St Francis Village houses with their white walls and black-thatched roofs.
Facilities here are first class and include everything one can expect of the finest golf clubs and add to that one of the largest practice ranges in the country, over 1,000 square metres of driving pleasure.
Nobody can dispute Louis de Jager’s form right now and going to St Francis at the back of a runner-up finish at Arabella a fortnight ago, he is surely one to watch this week.
Last week’s result was his second runner-up finish this season, with the first coming from the Sun City Challenge.
De Jager has not missed a single cut this season and his rounds of 68, 67 and 71 last week meant another finish in the top 10 for the three-time Sunshine Tour winner.
Worthy of concern for De Jager, however, will be his continued absence from the winner’s circle. His solid displays have not yielded victory for the past four years now and if unchanged, this reality might affect performance at times, something De Jager will be wary of.
He will see this week as another opportunity to end his winless run but as has been proven countless times already this season, a win doesn’t come that easily on the Sunshine Tour.
Hennie du Plessis has already lost one in a play-off this season and given that he did well at St Francis last season, he makes it here largely on sentiment.
His has been an indifferent 2018/19 season and his six missed cuts in the 10 events he’s played suggest a season that could yet be salvaged.
If he can replicate the performance he dished out at Wild Coast where he lost to Vaughn Groenewald in a play-off after totalling 16-under-par 194 in regulation, nothing can stop him getting in the mix at St Francis.
At Arabella, rounds 78 and 70 were not going to be enough to see him make the cut but going to a venue where he has done well, Du Plessis will aim to reproduce his Wild Coast showing where he signed for rounds of 66, 64 and 64 to contest for victory.
Ockie Strydom started this season with a Ping putter which, according to him, brought him little joy as he was failing to make what he would have seen last season as “easy putts”.
In the last round of the Vodacom Origins at Selborne Park, he said, he ditched the Ping and went back to his Scotty Cameron with which he made every putt he looked at last season when he came so close to winning on so many occasions.
That produced a final round 64 which catapulted him to a share of seventh as Peter Karmis emerged victorious. It didn’t let him down at Arabella, either, as he opened with a 68 which he said was due to his ‘old Scotty’.
Strydom has flirted with victory so many times but nothing has come his way just yet.
He is experienced enough not to allow that to put him under pressure but he will admit it to himself that a win may be a bit overdue for him.
He didn’t play all too well in this event last season and finished in a share of 36th after rounds of 71, 75 and 77 gave him a total of six-over-par 222.
Nevertheless, Strydom will be playing this tournament, as with any other he plays, with an aim of registering his maiden Sunshine Tour victory.