“I started the year very slowly, because I was getting used to the environment. To produce some good results helps with the confidence, and now I really feel like I can go out there and compete this week,” he smiled.
The 23-year-old from Parys earned his card through the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School at the beginning of the year, but he had to grind for five months before making his first cut.
That result came at the Zambia Sugar Open in May, where the former Southern African country districts champion finished tied fourth on nine-under-par. He shared eighth with the likes of Doug McGuigan, who has six career titles to his name.
“I learnt a lot in Zambia,” explained van den Bergh. “Especially from playing with the experienced guys on tour. I learnt how they play the course, and what shots they will choose to take in certain situations.”
His top-10 finish earned the young gun an automatic place at the Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland last week, where he carded rounds of 67, 74 and 69 for a share of 19th.
“It’s difficult to find your feet when there is a pre-qualifier every week. At least with the Big Easy Tour you are competing regularly, and the standard is good. That has really helped to prepare me for when I play well on the main tour,” he said.
Van den Bergh will have extra confidence at Irene Golf & Country Estate this week, where he shot 71 during the Tshwane Open pre-qualifier. He’s had a look at the course and likes what he sees for this week’s R100,000 tournament presented by Stonehage.
“We played here back in February and the track suits me. I enjoy the course and recently I’ve been hitting the ball really well, so hopefully I can turn that into a good result this week,” he said.
Also hunting the silverware is Graham van der Merwe, who took home a share of 24th in Swaziland last week. The 22-year-old proved his ability to handle pressure at the Tshwane Open in February, where he shot a Sunday 69 to finish tied eighth.
The Houghton local has five Big Easy top-10s to his name and will surely look for victory at Irene Estate, where he shot 67 during the Tshwane Open qualifier.