Sun City – Oliver Bekker has a soft spot for the Gary Player Country Club course at Sun City, where the 54-hole R750,000 Sun City Challenge takes place this week.
He played his second tournament as a professional on it during the 2008 Dimension Data Pro-Am and finished in a share of 13th. And he comes to the course this week as defending champion after his one-stroke victory over Shaun Norris in last year’s event.
“I really enjoy this course,” he said. “After that result in the Di Data, I’ve loved the course from the beginning. I think it’s a really rewarding golf course if you play well, and if you don’t play well, it’s going to punish you. I think that’s fair.”
Bekker was sitting around chatting with Doug Wood ahead of last year’s event, and he was down in the dumps with a year that seemed to be going nowhere. “I said I didn’t know how long I was still going to be playing, if I keep playing like I am,” recalled Bekker. At the end of the week, I ended up winning again.”
It was his first title in three-and-a-half years, and it started a renaissance in his golfing fortunes. “Now I’m back here again, three wins later and looking forward to having another good week,” he said.
Bekker sits atop the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit after five tournaments, two of which he’s won, come third in another two, and in his least impressive performances, still managed to come 30th.
“For last year at this time to now, I’ve got a lot more confidence,” he said. “Even if I’m not playing that great, I’ve got a better attitude on the course, and that keeps you together. Sometimes you can lose your focus and your mind, basically, when things aren’t going your way. But I have found a way to keep myself in the moment and relaxed. And even if things aren’t going well, it’s just a game at the end of the day.”
He finds himself up against a number of players who have returned to South Africa as the European Tour’s regular schedule is interrupted by the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and next week’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
Amongst those are the likes of Dean Burmester, who won the Tshwane Open this year, and last year’s Joburg Open winner, Haydn Porteous. Also in for the week is Zander Lombard, who finished in a share of fifth in last week’s Porsche European Open in Germany.
Last week’s Sunshine Tour winner from Highland Gate, Doug McGuigan, is also in the field, and he has also good memories of Gary Player Country Club, with a win there in 2009.
So Bekker has his work cut out for him, but, with the start he’s had to the 2017-18 year, he’s in a good space. “I’m just going to try to keep on doing what I have been doing,” he said. “It’s been working for me.”