Clarke won the 2001 Di-Data Pro-Am when it was still played at Sun City. Now, 13 years later, the R4,5-million tournament plays out across Fancourt’s three courses, namely The Links, Montagu and Outeniqua. There is a cut after 54 holes and then the final round is played at Montagu.
The jovial Northern Irishman has long been a fan of South Africa and he’ll look to reignite his career at Fancourt in a week’s time. He’s claimed 14 European Tour victories and two World Golf Championship titles, but most impressive was his victory at Royal St. George’s in 2011.
“Winning again a priority for this year,” the 46-year-old said. “It’s been nearly four years since I lifted the Claret Jug and I just want to get back in the winner’s circle again.”
Clarke has been eyeing the chance to captain Europe at the Ryder Cup, but there is a strong sentiment among the players that their leader should be a current player on tour. He’ll want a victory in order to secure that leader’s spot at the Ryder Cup, which he has competed at five times.
The place for him to get back on track is South Africa, which he has frequented since 1991. At the 2001 Di-Data Pro-Am Clarke shot 71 during the final round at Gary Player Country Club and edged out a flying Tjaart van der Walt, who raced around in 66 to finish second.
For Clarke it’s about getting back to his best with a victory, but the locals will not go down without a fight. Either way the 2011 Open Champion is happy to be back.
“South Africa has always been a favourite stop and the country is very special. The crowds are amazing and very supportive,” he said.