One of the biggest success stories of the Big Easy Tour in 2012 is FancourtÂs Riekus Nortje, who has really announced himself to the world of golf this year. Nortje turned pro in 2011, and has played some superb golf during the last 12 months. He eventually finished second on the Big Easy TourÂs Order of Merit, and this, coupled with some invaluable experienced gained on the Sunshine Tour, has provided a fantastic launch-pad for his career.
ÂIÂm pretty happy with how this yearÂs gone. I probably didnÂt play as well as I would have liked on the Sunshine Tour, but three wins on the Big Easy Tour have really done wonders for my confidence, and I certainly feel like a much better golfer for it,Â he said.
And with continuous and steady improvement during the course of the season, itÂs clear to see why. Nortje was also matched up against Sasha Martinengo in SundayÂs Sunshine Tour Media Challenge, and playing with someone so high profile was certainly a measure of how far Nortje has come in such a short space of time.
ÂIt was obviously such a privilege to play with Sasha at Copperleaf. We had a really fun game too. He gave it to me a bit on the back nine. But he is also one of South AfricaÂs finest sports journalists, and to be rubbing shoulders with people like that really makes you feel like you have arrived,Â he said.
Mixing with sportÂs elite is nothing new for Nortje either. He played with his good friend Branden Grace in the practice round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at the Links, and watching the man he knows so well from his days at the Fancourt Foundation enjoy such a meteoric rise has given Nortje tremendous inspiration.
ÂIÂve known Branden for quite a few years now, and to see the year heÂs had has been incredible. But, for someone like me, I also know that I can hit the ball just as well as him, sink the same putts he does, so it definitely gives you a lot of hope,Â he said.
Nortje has certainly taken the Big Easy Tour by storm, and with a massive summer of golf ahead on the Sunshine Tour, he seems well poised to make the next step up. Events coming up are getting increasingly lucrative, and it is a fantastic opportunity for him to take centre stage.
ÂItÂs funny, I donÂt feel like IÂm hitting the ball better than I did this time last year, or even holing that many more putts. But my all round game just feels more solid, and IÂm probably mentally a lot tougher now from my experiences from this year,Â he said.
Nortje is without question one of the most exciting talents on the Sunshine Tour, and certainly has the game to make a major breakthrough. His game has grown immeasurably of late, and, with such a massive summer of golf ahead, heÂll surely be a man to look out for.