Golf

Rikus gets jump on Louis

2012-10-22 20:18
Rikus Oosthuizen (Photo: Sunshine Tour)
Sun City - It’s still five weeks until the Nedbank Golf Challenge but surprise, surprise - there is already an Oosthuizen on the leaderboard at Sun City.

Rikus Oosthuizen, older brother of 2010 Open champion Louis, is one of the leading players in this year’s Sanlam Cancer Challenge, but this Oosthuizen is playing two of South Africa’s top golf courses for the first time.

Each year the leaderboards at the Sanlam Cancer Challenge Final dish up a couple of surprises and this year has been no different.

Take 64-year-old Geraldine Bricknell from Walmer Golf Club in the Eastern Cape, who held off competitors half her age to take a four point lead in the Womens’ C-Division.  Or the three teenagers chasing thirty-something Christelle Delport in the Women’s A-Division.

And let’s not forget Bennie Fourie, the pride of Prince Albert, whose putting stroke on the manicured greens at the Lost City golf course left his playing partners dumbfounded.

Rikus Oosthuizen may have supported his celebrated brother from the galleries at the Gary Player Country Club, but unlike Louis, he has never hit a shot on the hallowed fairways at Sun City until he teed it up at the Lost City golf course on Monday.

Eighteen holes later, the six-handicap golfer from Albertinia found himself tied for second and trailing A-Division leaders Werner Ferreira and Danie du Plessis by four points. And, on Tuesday, he will get the jump on his younger sibling when he plays the Nedbank Golf Challenge course for the first time.

“For us amateurs, playing the Gary Player is what the playing the Masters is like to the professionals,” said Oosthuizen. “It is incredibly special when you think about it.

“Sanlam is giving us the chance to play the Gary Player course five weeks before some of the best golfer in the world will play here to an audience of millions of people. People like me and all the players teeing here this week. On top of it, we all helped Sanlam to break the R3-million mark this year, so it’s twice as special.”

Meanwhile Delport from Benoni Lake Golf Club will have her job cut out to hold off a youthful three-way challenge from defending champion Shawnelle de Lange (14), Michaela Fletcher (16) and 14-year-old Minette Olivier in Tuesday’s second round at the Gary Player.

“It took some getting used to when we first teed off, because the greens here are very fast, but I was getting pretty comfortable over the last couple of holes,” said reigning SA Girls Stroke Play champion Fletcher, from KwaZulu-Natal.

“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, although it will be tough to challenge for the title from a scratch handicap in this
Stableford format. Still, I’m doing this for my gran, who has cancer. I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Meanwhile, Fourie from Prince Albert came under “friendly fire” from his fellow competitors after he scored 32 points off a 15 handicap take an early six-point lead in the B-Division. And the teasing continued even after his reign was cut short by Koos van Niekerk from Koster, who scored 34 points.

“The guys were teasing me non-stop when I came off the course,” Fourie explained. “They wanted to know how I can putt so well on these immaculate greens when all I know is “Diesel and Dust”, but I tell them it’s all about the stroke.

“Our course back home is basically a gravel and dirt layout with oil and sand greens. Once in a while I’ll drive the 120km to Oudtshoorn to play a “proper” golf course, but most of the time it’s the home course for me.”

Fourie, his father Johan and both his brothers have supported the Sanlam Cancer Challenge for the last couple of years and it is the second time Fourie made the final.

“I played at San Lameer in 2003 but playing both courses at Sun City is in a whole different league. You know, golf is usually a very selfish game because you play for yourself but in the case of the Sanlam Cancer Challenge, you receive while you give. It’s a great feeling to enjoy this experience knowing that you’ve done your bit by giving back to the Cancer Association of South Africa.”

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