While he has yet to crack a top-10 finish in this year’s Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage, Graham van der Merwe is due a good finish when the circuit arrives at Wingate Park Golf Club on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Houghton resident made a big impression in the Tshwane Open in February when he mixed it with the big guns on his way to a share of eighth in the best performance of his fledgling professional career.
And in his three tournaments he’s played on the Big Easy Tour this year, he hasn’t quite replicated that form with a 22nd-place finish in Kempton Park in May, and two 11th places – the second of those earlier this month at Irene Country Club.
So he lies just 31st on the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit, but he also brings a recent top-10 finish from the Sunshine Tour to the party when the Wingate Park event gets underway: He shared 10th in last week’s Polokwane Classic behind winner Dean Burmester.
He will have his hands full with no fewer than four 2013 Big Easy Tour winners: Zimbabwe’s Micky Hough, Toto Thimba Jnr, Jaco Prinsloo and Anton Haig are all in the field, and they will make that experience count.
Van der Merwe would love to get a victory under his belt after his second-round six-under-par 66 in the Tswhane Open catapulted him into contention.
However, it was more than just a single round that kept him battling it out in that rich European Tour co-sanctioned event: He followed it up with two more rounds in the 60s, including a battling closing 69 when the hammer was down and the pressure really intense.
The Big Easy events are just 36-holes, but they give players the opportunity to hone their tournament-play skills in a competitive environment. And the host of players who have graduated from strong showings on the ‘junior’ circuit to good performances on the Sunshine Tour provide growing proof of the value of that opportunity.
Van der Merwe can grab his share of that opportunity at Wingate Park.