Three to watch at Fancourt this week

[Wednesday, February 14, 2018 08:18:27]

There have been some big-name winners in the Dimension Data Pro-Am which tees off on all three courses at Fancourt this week. Six of the names on the champions list have won majors, and two have been world number one.

Nick Price and Lee Westwood made it to the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking, and Price also was one of those who won major championships. The other major winners were Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and last year’s champion, Paul Lawrie.

Lawrie won’t be back to defend this year, and neither will anyone else on that illustrious list. So who should you keep your eye on as the action unfolds on Outeniqua, Montagu and The Links at Fancourt? The players play one round on each of those courses ahead of the cut, and finish up in the final round on the testing Montagu.

The former champion

Oliver Bekker won in 2012 by two shots from Thomas Aiken and Tyrone Ferreira. He didn’t kick on as well as he would have liked immediately after that, but his 2017-18 season has been a dream one with three victories and three other top 10s.

That has taken him to fifth on the Order of Merit, and with that race at its sharp end now, he’ll be looking for some good finishes to close out the season and perhaps take him to the top of that list. With Dylan Frittelli and Branden Grace unlikely to play enough tournaments – six is the requirement – to qualify for a position on the Order of Merit, Bekker will want to make headway in overtaking JC Ritchie and closing down the gap on Erik van Rooyen. They are the only two players ahead of him.

Bekker at his best has the ability to go low on any course he plays, and he will take heart from a solid, if unspectacular, share of 23rd at last week’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship. It will be a question of shutting out that single poor round each week which has been hampering him.

The contender

Erik van Rooyen has more than a good sniff at being able to lift the Sid Brews Trophy for winning the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.

His second-place finish in December’s Joburg Open has put him in effective first place in the race for that title, as Dylan Frittelli will not make the requirement of six events played to qualify for a position on the list.                                                                                                                           

He was not impressive in his defence of his 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship, with a final-round 78 seeing him slip down the leaderboard to a share of 52nd. But he’s not the kind of player to let that prey on his confidence ahead of a new week.

He’s not been a major contender at Fancourt before, but his experience gained on the Challenge Tour last year on his way to earning his European Tour card for 208 will have given him some insight on how to deal with moving from course to differing course regularly.

He’s really dogged when he gets into contention, so expect him to chase and chase hard if he gets a good start.

He’s due

Toby Tree came fifth in the Dimension Data Pro-Am last year, and it was only a round of even-par 73 on The Links which prevented him from actually winning. He made a double-bogey and four bogeys on that challenging course. Six birdies kept him in the hunt, but fewer errors on that second day of the tournament would have been good.

A share of fourth in last week’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship showed he is in form. Like so many players, it’s just a single poor round which is preventing him from taking his first Sunshine Tour title.

He knows what it takes to get the job done at Fancourt: In his first outing there, he finished in a share of ninth.

A good round at The Links is the key for him if he is to win this week.