By Michael Vlismas
This week’s Telkom Business PGA Championship holds fond memories for Warren Abery as the tournament that reignited his career when he won it in 2005.
Returning to Country Club Johannesburg as one of a select group of Southern Africa’s greatest golfers to have added their name to the second oldest professional title in the country remains a great source of pride for Abery.
“This tournament means a lot to me. Before the 2005 Telkom Business PGA Championship I was a bit down on myself regarding my game, and I was looking for other avenues outside of golf. But that win really confirmed that I could still play this game, and it was kind of the start of my second career,” Abery said ahead of Thursday’s first round.
“It’s a special event. You look at the names on this trophy and it means a lot to have mine there as well. Nobody can ever take that away from you. It’s something to always look back on and remind yourself that you are up there with some of the best players.”
His 2005 triumph sparked a run in which Abery won the South African Masters the following year, giving him ownership of two of the three “majors” of South African golf. And he earned his European Tour card, but he was unable to keep it.
“When I won it was a bit sudden. I was playing well and the whole week felt like a happy week for me. I won another tournament and got my European Tour card and everything fell into place after that.”
Abery is one of a number of former champions in the field this week, including defending champion Jaco van Zyl as well as George Coetzee, Michiel Bothma and Keith Horne.
“I’m really looking forward to this week,” said Abery. “We’ve had a lot of golf and I’ve been playing well. This is quite a long course but they seem to have narrowed it up this year, which suits me as a straight hitter.”
More rain on the Woodmead Course on the eve of the first round will indeed make it a long test.
“It’s playing very long, because the fairways are still wet,” said Andrew Curlewis. “The greens are a bit deceiving and look a lot slower than what they are. It’s just a tough course. If you drive it poorly and go into the rough you’ll have problems. There are some good par threes and you’ll have to hit your irons well. It’s an all-round good golf course and whoever wins will definitely have played the best golf for the week.”