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
“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
“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
“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.”