Although he won the Dimension Data Pro-Am back in 2012, Oliver Bekker still draws on those memories as he prepares for the 2016 edition of the tournament which tees off on Thursday at all three of the courses at Fancourt.
Bekker closed with a one-under-par 71 on Montagu in the final round in 2012 to beat Tyrone Ferreira and Thomas Aiken by two strokes, and that was the start of the best two years Bekker has had on the Sunshine Tour. He finished 10th on the Order of Merit in 2012, and ninth in 2013.
“I trend to find myself going back to my memories when I stand over certain shots here,” said Bekker. “It’s amazing how you remember that clearly. I played at The Links yesterday and I remembered on a couple of holes exactly what I did when I won here.”
The Dimension Data Pro-Am is played on Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links, with professionals playing one round on each course ahead of the cut after 54 holes to the top 65 players and ties. Each pro also plays with an amateur in betterball medal format, and there is a cut for that competition after 54 holes to the top 25 teams. Prize money for the professionals is R4.75-million, and R300,000 for the pro-am competition.
For Bekker, the tournament is special for more reasons than just because he once won it. “This is a fun week, probably the most fun we have at an event on the Sunshine Tour in the year. It’s tight up there with The European Tour’s Dunhill Links and last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA Tour.
“It’s a relaxed week, although the professionals are playing for some serious money, but having the amateur partners just takes the edge off. They are very respectful. They all know what’s going on this week, and they tend to get out of your way when they can’t score anymore.
“And the evening functions are just so much fun. If you’ve had a bad round or you’re not completely happy with your day, the functions take that away and you can just relax and enjoy the fun,” he added.
The Sunshine Tour has played the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the three Fancourt courses since 2010, so the professionals have become very familiar with the layouts, so weather can become a determining factor in the outcome of the tournament.
“George can get four seasons in one day, so you don’t know what you’re going to get,” said Bekker. “There is a bit of luck involved, depending on which course you get under which weather conditions. It’s tricky to put that out of your mind when the draw comes out. Sometimes you feel a little hard done by, but the sooner you get over it, the better.”
Bekker is drawn on The Links for his first round on Tuesday at 8.25am, and with the wind forecast to get up only in the afternoon, he might not have anything to get over.