Chris Swanepoel would choose bushveld over fynbos any time he could, but he returns to Arabella Country Estate this week for the second in the Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung series as the last Sunshine Tour champion at the Western Cape course.
Swanepoel won the 2011 Vodacom Origins of Golf event there by three strokes from Christiaan Basson, taking his second career title on the Sunshine Tour after his maiden win in the 2007 Eskom Power Cup.
“I don’t normally like the Cape much,” joked Swanepoel after his win, “but I quite like it now – especially after the weather held for all three days.”
While there are no guarantees that the weather will be as kind to Swanepoel as it was last time, he comes to the tournament hoping that his form will show an upturn after an opening half of the 2014 Sunshine Tour season that has seen him limp along rather than producing more top 10s to add to the three he gained in 2012 – which included a victory in the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.
He has missed eight cuts in the 10 tournaments he has played, but he is too good a player to allow that trend to continue. His last top-10 finish on the Sunshine Tour came in 2013, when he finished third in the Telkom PGA Championship.
The man he beat at Arabella in 2011, Basson has no such form concerns. He had a brilliant win in March’s Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland, closing with a superb 10-under-par 62.
Basson is one of eight Sunshine Tour 2014 champions playing at Arabella this week: The others are Trevor Fisher Jnr who won the Investec Cup, Telkom Business PGA Championship winner Titch Moore, Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open champion Jbe’ Kruger, Danie van Tonder who won the Investec Royal Swazi Open and the Vodacom Origins series opener at Euphoria, Wallie Coetsee who took the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open, Lyle Rowe who won the other Zambian tournament, the Zambia Sugar Open, and Sun City Challenge winner Dean Burmester.
The tournament tees off on Wednesday, and the 54-hole event will conclude on Friday.