One year ago the career of Andrew Curlewis took a dramatic upward swing at Wild Coast Sun Country Club when he lifted the Wild Waves Challenge trophy. A fortnight later he won again and ended a six year title drought with back to back victories.
“When I pitched up at Wild Coast Sun yesterday I got goosebumps thinking about some of the shots that I hit and some of the putts that I sank last year. It’s a huge confidence booster to be back here as defending champion,” he said.
The 31-year-old grew up in Margate and first gripped a club at the age of five. He went on to represent Natal as a junior and often played at Wild Coast Sun Country Club over the years. To return this year for his title defence is something of a homecoming for Curlewis, who celebrated his birthday one week ago.
“I get lots of people walking around supporting me which gives me an extra edge,” he said, “and I play here often with my mates, so it feels like home.”
The 5807-metre track is the shortest on the Sunshine Tour’s rotation and last year it came down to putting. Veterans Desvonde Botes and Titch Moore applied pressure during the final round, but Curlewis rose to the occasion and carded 31 on the back nine to win by one stroke.
“It was some of the best golf I have played in years,” Curlewis said. “It was a few long years without a win, so to give myself a chance and then hold the others off coming down the last three holes felt very special.”
This year there is a field jam-packed with players due for a win and the weather forecast predicts blustery conditions throughout the week.
“If the weather forecast is correct it should be fun and games out there,” Curlewis joked.
But he’ll be deadly serious when the tournament starts on Wednesday.
“The way I played in practice has me excited for the week and I feel confident about my chances,” said the three-time champion.