The final in a series of profiles of the top 10 players on the 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit:
No. 1 – Dawie van der Walt
He was just not willing to believe it when he was told, but Dawie van der Walt did indeed win the 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in a year during which he – by his own admission – hit golfing rock bottom.
And all it took was two victories which bracketed his year: The first came in the newly-minted Tshwane Open in February after missed cuts in the Joburg Open and the Africa Open, and that alone won him enough money to keep him second in the Order of Merit until the new criteria for entry into the Nedbank Golf Challenge saw him into that tournament.
He finished 24th in that 30-man field, after missing cuts in the South African Open Championship and in the Alfred Dunhill Championship – and then he won the season-ending Nelson Mandela Championship to race past long-time Order of Merit leader Darren Fichardt, and pick up all the perks associated with that triumph,
Those perks include going to play in the Open Championship – that will be his first major championship, and if his penchant for playing well in big events under pressure, then who knows what might happen there.
His R5,094,332.50 in winnings was comfortably the most he has won in six years on the Sunshine Tour – in fact, that total was more than his previous five years combined and then doubled!
That he was able to achieve that despite the injury which saw the middle portion of his year – as usual devoted to trying to get onto the US PGA Tour – become a litany of missed cuts speaks volumes as to his resilience.
If that resilience plays out in just one other European Tour event – or in something that gets him instant access to the PGA Tour – then he will have truly hit the big time.