“This course is a special place for me, so I enjoy it every time I come back here,” said Christiaan Basson during his practice round at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club on Thursday, where he aims to successfully defend his title at this week’s Lombard Insurance Classic.
The R1-million tournament has had some electric finishes, including a 59 from Peter Karmis in 2009, and the highest winning total was 14-under-par in 2011.
It’s a tournament famous for low numbers, which the crowds witnessed on Sunday in 2014 when Basson birdied the last three holes for a final-round of 62, a 19-under-par total and a five-shot victory.
“It was very nice and quite surreal to do that last year, but you have to start from scratch once again. I’ve been struggling a little bit leading into this tournament, but the game feels okay. I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m quite positive,” he said.
This week marks the ninth hosting of the event and from Friday morning there will be 84 professionals vying for the win. Basson will look to play his way into contention during the week and then achieve the rare feat of successfully defending his title.
“I’m obviously hoping to win again, but we treat this tournament the same as every other week. You don’t want to put added pressure on yourself when trying to defend, so my main goal is to put in a good showing,” said the three-time Sunshine Tour champion.
On Thursday 15 spots went up for grabs at the tournament pre-qualifier and Tyrone Ryan nabbed the first golden ticket when he carded 65 to win by a stroke. He was followed into the tournament by Jeff Inglis, Drikus Bruyns, Stephen Ferreira, and Jaco Prinsloo, who each carded 66 to share second.