It was three days later and the eve of the next tournament – the Tshwane Open – but Darren Fichardt was still enjoying the afterglow of his Joburg Open triumph, confident that he could once again contend at Pretoria Country Club this weekend.
“It’s just like I’m walking on a cloud, you know. It just feels like I’m carrying the form of last week and everything is confident and there’s no negative thought,” Fichardt said on Wednesday after breezing through the pro-am.
Having been born in Pretoria, Fichardt is certainly well-versed in the nuances of Pretoria Country Club and said he has a suitable game plan in place.
“I have played here a lot as a junior. I live 50 minutes away from here so I have played it quite a few times and I really do like this golf course and I have had quite a bit of success here.
“But if you have not played here much, then you need to really think a lot around the course and what you want to do. But I have got a pretty good game plan, I have been playing here for the last 15 years and I will just stick to that game plan and see what happens,” Fichardt said.
But there are plenty of other golfers in the field who know the course intimately as well, none more so than George Coetzee, who won the title at his home club in 2015.
South Africa’s ninth-ranked golfer finished in a tie for seventh in last weekend’s Joburg Open, shooting a 65 in the final round, so he is clearly in form as well.
“I’m playing really well. I’m ticking all the boxes I want to and having played here quite a lot, hopefully things should be on point,” Coetzee said.
Although the course is a lot drier than Royal Johannesburg and Kensington was last week due to the quagmire caused by days of rain, the rough is up at Pretoria Country Club and will make life hard for the errant golfer.
“The rough is quite thick. The guys won’t be complaining about the course, but they will be losing a couple of balls in the rough, so if you hit the rough you will have to suffer the consequences,” Coetzee said.
Fichardt agreed: “The course is a lot drier than last week and is in unbelievable condition. The rough is really thick so it’s key just to be in the fairways.”
But Pretoria Country Club also has tricky greens and accuracy is also going to be crucial when hitting the approach shots.
“I think putting well is key to getting around here and the greens are pretty severe, so you’ve got to leave yourself in the right places on the greens,” Dean Burmester said.
Many pundits believe it is a matter of time when Burmester wins a co-sanctioned event.
And the 27-year-old is comfortable with the expectation and playing well at the moment to occupy second place on the Sunshine Tour order of merit.
“I’ll take a lot of positives from last week. The first two days were really good and really positive, and I have found a couple of things in my game over the last few months which have really made a big difference. This course suits any style of game.
“A lot of people have been saying that a win is just around the corner. I’m just going to stick to my guns and do what I can,” Burmester said philosophically.