European Tour

Otto recharged, excited for comeback

2015-05-06 07:56
Hennie Otto (Gallo Images)

Domaine De Bel Ombre - A recharged Hennie Otto is geared to take his place in a top-class cast of international players seeking to land one of the most prestigious titles on offer in this week’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

After spending almost three months on the bench, the 16-time international champion is hunting a solid start at the spectacular Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius to mark his competitive return.

Back surgery and a 10-week hiatus has left him a little rusty, but Otto was in a buoyant mood after the pro-am of the first European, Asian and Sunshine Tour tri-sanctioned event on Tuesday.

“I didn’t come here to put in a cameo appearance,” 38-year-old George player declared.

“I’m definitely here to compete; I’m just not going to be stupid about it. I know low scores and victories will come. For now, I just want to get out there and compete.”

Otto had four bogeys in his first trip around the championship layout, but managed to knock in three birdie putts to counter the damage .The outing has left him raring to go.

“I had some fantastic amateurs and we had great fun out there,” he said.

“It was great to get the competitive juices flowing and to make some clutch putts and good saves. Hopefully I can keep on improving as the week goes on.”

Otto has won consistently since he joined the pro ranks in 1997 and owns 12 titles on the Sunshine Tour and four victories abroad.

But the seasoned campaigner is keeping his expectations in check.

“It was a really frustrating couple of months, but I knew I had to ride it out,” he said. “This was just my third competitive round since the Dimension Data Pro-Am, so I won’t push. I would just like to post some decent scores and finish on the other side of 72 holes.”

Otto enjoyed a solid start to his 2015 season with a tie for 13th in the South African Open, but after making the cut in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Maybank Malaysian Open, he was forced to withdraw from the True Thailand Classic.

“I played the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour a week later, but then I had to call it a day,” said Otto, who tied for third at Fancourt.

“The discs in my back have collapsed. I had the same surgery a few years ago, but I came back from that to win the SA Open and my second Italian Open title.

“I knew it wasn’t the end of the road and that kept me patient this time around. Eventually I will have to undergo some major surgery, but for now, the laser procedure relieves the pain.”

The AfrAsia Bank ambassador has been kept busy since his arrival in Mauritius.

“On Saturday, I hosted a clinic for the VIP clients of AfrAsia Bank, which was really a lot of fun and on Thursday, I did a clinic and photoshoot with Anahita, my other Mauritian sponsor,” Otto said.

“My sponsors have all said to take it easy, but I would like to put up a great show for them.”

Otto will tee it up in the €1-million showpiece alongside the cream of the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours in the 132-man field. 

“I think this tri-sanctioned tournament is a fantastic incentive,” Otto said.

“It’s nice to have a tournament that brings together the best players from three world Tours and it gives everyone a chance to compete against the best.”

Otto said the tournament is great for fellow Lumenrock International Sport Management players Keith Horne, Louis de Jager and recent Zambia Suger Open champion and George neighbour Vaughn Groenewald.

“For guys Louis and Vaughn, who don’t have cards to play in Europe or in Asia, like Keith Horne, this is a fantastic opportunity to gain a card.

“That’s why Mauritius is a also great venue for this event. It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the world, but it levels the playing field for all the players. It’s neutral ground, so anyone who is firing hot can lift the title this week.”

Read more on:    european tour  |  hennie otto  |  golf

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