And with double the usual prize money up for grabs, his fractionally over R400 deficit behind leader Bryn Flanagan could get wiped out ahead of the season-ending Tour Championship on September 16 at Glendower Golf Club.
“That’s why I decided to play in this tournament, rather than in the main Sunshine Tour event in Durban,” said Gerber. “I’d really like to win the Big Easy Order of Merit.”
He has the pedigree on the development tour to do that, with 15 top-10 finishes on the circuit since its 2011 inception, including two victories – one of which came in the 2013 Tour Championship.
After that event, Gerber had his attempt to step up to the Sunshine Tour stymied an surgery to his hand, which out him out for nine months of 2014. So he’s had to return to the Big Easy Tour to start the process all over again.
The Big Easy Tour aims to give players a chance to acclimatize to the professional golf circuit in South Africa by enabling them to play competitive tournament rounds. There are seven regular events on the schedule, with a Tour Championship that caps off the season.
“It’s such a mind-set thing for me, that step up,” said Gerber. “I’ve been battling with myself for a long time, and another win on the Big Easy Tour will help my confidence for sure. Perhaps I’m just over-thinking things.”
Returning to Swaziland will help him put those difficult thoughts out of his mind. “I’m excited to go to Swaziland,” he said. “I like the course, which is a great risk-reward course. I’ve shot a couple of 64s and 65s on it in pre-qualifiers for the main tour, so that will keep me interested.”
While Flanagan and Gerber are some way clear of pursuers at the top of the Order of Merit, a good tournament in Swaziland by some of the closest challengers could upset the applecart: Stephen Ferreira, Pieter Kruger, Michael Palmer and Gert Myburgh are all within R9,000 of the top.
The tournament tees off on Thursday.