The year that marked golf’s highs and lows

2017-12-30 09:46

The year 2017 will go down the golfing calender as having elicited bright and dark moments for South African players campaigning in the Sunshine and European Tours.

While some players stole the limelight on the courses with their talent, it was disappointment for those who could not shine on the tees and different fairways due to bad form.

For Oliver Bekker, it was a moment to savour as he captured three events in spectacular fashion. They are: the Zambia Sugar Open, which he won by two strokes at Lusaka Golf Club in April; the Lombard Insurance Classic – he captured (three strokes) at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club in May; and the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge he snatched (three strokes) at Wild Coast Sun Country in August.

This was a great showing for the 32-year-old Pretoria player as he has had a great year of golf at home. His impressive showing came against the background of the fact that majority of local players struggle to find their mojo on the South African courses.

Even former major winners like Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who campaign in the European and PGA tours, failed to make the grade at home this year. They finished the year empty handed.

One of the highlights of the year also saw Dean Burmester lift a big trophy by snatching the co-sanctioned contest Tshwane Open by three strokes at Pretoria Country Club in March.

But who can ever forget Branden Grace’s breathtaking showing on the big stage this year? He became the first man to record a sub-63 score in a major when he shot a 62 (8-under-par) in the British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in July.

The accolades should also go to Dylan Frittelli for collecting a second European Tour title in almost six months. Last Sunday he won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open by beating Arjun Atwal in a play-off. On June 11, Frittelli took the Lyoness Open silverware at Diamond Country Club in Austria by one shot.

But the scenario shows that many local golfers continued to struggle to make a big impact locally and overseas this year because of poor form.

On a lighter note, the rebirth of the Soweto Country Club took another major step forward this week when the PGA, European Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour, the R&A and the City of Johannesburg teamed up to officially break ground on the rebuilding of the golf course in Soweto’s most iconic township.

The PGA Tour are the latest to lend their considerable support towards the rehabilitation of course through a significant financial contribution of the course and other golf development initiative on this project.

• Former world number one Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge at New Providence, Albany, Bahamas, after a nine-month layoff following a back surgery. He finished tied ninth.

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April 22 2018