Daniel on the move

Daniel Hammond has been on the rise throughout his rookie year on tour, and his share of fifth at Big Easy Kempton Park is a sign that there is more to come.

“It’s my first year on tour, and it’s taken me a while just to settle down. I was right at the top as an amateur, and having to qualify and compete as a professional takes time, but I’m getting there,” he said.

Yet pre-qualifying seems not to be a problem for the 21-year-old, who qualified and made the cut at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, Telkom PGA Championship and Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.

Two things are noticeable about Hammond’s performance over those three tournaments. Firstly, they are three of the largest events on the Sunshine Tour schedule – each event carries more than R1-million in prize money. Secondly, Hammond was solid at the 36-hole mark of each tournament, but struggled to keep the momentum going after making it past the cut.

So the 21-year-old has the talent to keep pace with the best, but struggles to maintain his form as the pressure mounts going into the final rounds. Stringing four rounds together under pressure can often be tough for a rookie on tour.

The youngster is in no rush to produce fireworks, however, and speaks with a confidence that belies his game. He said: “It’s still very new. These things take time, and I’m getting there, slowly but surely. You just have to take it one step at a time.”

That’s all well and good, but last week, with his father on his bag, he took home a share of fifth. “My father has been supporting my golf for as long as I can remember, and even though he doesn’t normally caddie for me, he’s always there to watch. Having him caddie at Big Easy (Kempton Park) really helped, because he keeps me calm,” said the Wanderers Golf Club professional.

As many previous Big Easy success stories go, it often takes just one good finish, one switch to flick over, and the rest is history. His latest result could well be that spark, and while Hammond still has far to go in realizing his dreams, the five-time South African golfing representative has made enough cuts in big tournaments to let everyone know that he has the game.

With a top-five finish under his belt, he could well go on to the bigger heights he has eyes for, which he outlined. “The Big Easy is a great tour, because you have to play well against strong competition in a pressure environment. I want a few good finishes this year and this result helps. I want to play as many main tour events as I can and I want a few good results out of those tournaments,” he said.

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