11th September 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Groenewald aims for Arabella glory
The extent to which this season’s Vodacom Origins of Golf series is special isn’t only underpinned by the celebration of the 15-year partnership between the Tour and Vodacom, but it’s appreciated more for the legacy it continues to create.
While names like Jean Hugo will forever be etched in memory for the number of these titles he has won over the seasons, and while players like Thomas Aiken are remembered as among the very first to claim three of these titles in one season, there’s more history being made.
Players like Heinrich Bruiners who is a member of the Gary Player Class, Hennie du Plessis, Zander Lombard, Madalitso Muthiya, Jaco Prinsloo and Jared Harvey, among others, won their first-ever Sunshine Tour titles in this series. To illustrate this is the fact that there has been a first-time winner in all 15 seasons of this series. As a result, over 50 different players have been crowned champions along the way.
Now, going into the third event in this season’s series which will be held at Arabella Country Club, there’s every reason to be optimistic that a new history will be written. Defending champion, Keith Horne, if he wins, will become the first player to defend this title in Kleinmond. Jean Hugo, the 11-time winner in the series and with the most wins by far, is unpredictable but one certainty is that he has everything it takes to make it 12 Vodacom titles this week. He won here in 2014 and he will want to regain winning form soonest as the co-sanctioned tournaments lie on the horizon.
Chris Swanepoel, another player to have won this event at Arabella, knows it’s been a while since his win and will want to change that this week, and what better place to do so at a place where he has enjoyed success before.
It will be Vaughn Groenewald, however, who will be among those to watch. The six-time Sunshine Tour winner won here in 2016 and while that may mean very little as many other players have won before, but here’s an interesting one:
Groenewald’s last three victories came in from coastal golf courses – Sun Wild Coast in 2015, Vodacom Origins of Golf Arabella in 2016 and Sun Wild Coast Challenge in 2018 – and by his own admission, he’s just a different player altogether in such weather conditions.
“I have a pretty a low ball flight,” he notes, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t hit it high, I just prefer it this way. So, with the wind in the coastal areas, I’m a different player. I like it”
Add that up with the fact that he just loves the layout there, and then you have a serious competition in your hands.
“I love the whole place,” Groenewald admits ahead of this week’s tournament, “the course is stunning. I love the par-five second hole, for me, it’s a risk and reward hole. It’s a beautiful driving hole. I also the love eighth, also a par-five, coming down the hill, and I always try to avoid the water there.”
With such memories and a solid game to match, Groenewald will also hope to make history with another win but in a field as strong as the field assembled at Arabella this week and with the coastal weather conditions expected to play a huge role too, every player will have their work cut out for them for victory to be theirs.