Callie Swart has been the standout player on the Big Easy Tour this season and heads to the Tour Championship ranked number one. This week at The Els Club, Copperleaf he’ll need to make one last push in order to become the 2014 Big Easy champion.
The feeder tour serves two purposes. The first aim is to provide up-and-coming professionals the chance to get extra tournament rounds under their belt and prepare for the big stage. The second is to allow players whose game has gone cold the opportunity to rebuild confidence and head back onto the main tour and compete.
Swart has toured since 1994 and he requires something big to get him fired up for the 2015 season. The Tour Championship is the opportunity he needs and should he win the Order of Merit it will earn him full playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour in 2015.
The dream began for Swart at Big Easy Houghton in April, where he finished tied for fourth place on five-under-par for the tournament.
A week later the development tour headed to Kempton Park Golf Club and the Pretoria local was ready to compete. After carding rounds of 65 and 70 he entered a sudden-death playoff against TI Mazibuko, Kenneth Dube and TJ Bekker, but the experience paid off and he won after two extra holes.
He went on to tie for 21st at Wingate Park Country Club in May and then shared 13th place at Irene Country Club in early August. The latest Big Easy event was held at Glendower Golf Club and Swart made an eagle at the 15th during the final round before trying for fifth place. Those money finishes secured his spot at the top of the earnings list.
The Tour Championship pits the top 30 earners from the regular Big Easy Tour season against one another over 54 holes of stroke play. It carries a R200,000 prize fund and at the end of the tournament the leading player on the Order of Merit wins full playing privileges to the 2015 Sunshine Tour. Swart has played all six regular-season events on the schedule this year and tops the charts heading into the week at Copperleaf.
It will take three low rounds to get over the final hurdle, but the 48-year-old has the experience to do it.