The Randpark professional goes into the final round of the tournament at Pretoria Country Club at six-under-par – three off the lead held by Charl Schwarztel, and in a share of third with Joburg Open winner Haydn Porteous.
Before the Tshwane Open, he was in 46th spot on the Chase to Investec Cup list, a long way from getting a chance to play for the R10-million bonus pool which awaits the top 16 players after a year-long quest for points which began at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open and culminates at the Eye Of Africa PGA Championship on February 28.
If he were to finish the Tshwane Open in his current position, projections have him leaping 36 spots into 10th, and that would assure him of the opportunity to compete for the winner’s share of that R10-million, which is R4-million.
With the biggest cheque of his career coming in the 2010 Alfred Dunhill Championship where he finished in a share of second behind winner Pablo Martin Benavides of Spain – it was worth R713,000 to him – a chance to take home the big prize is obviously a tantalising incentive.
The Tshwane Open is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour with The European Tour and carries a total of 10,000 points, of which 900 are awarded to first place – it’s the most lucrative tournament in terms of Investec Cup points, so a good finish can make a dramatic difference to a player’s chances of making it to Millvale Private Retreat on March 9.
“I’m just going to stick to what I’ve done,” said Michael of the final round of the Tshwane Open. “It’s got me to where I am now so I’m not going to change any of the game plan and I’m just going to carry on. That’s the key – keeping the mistakes off the card.”