One year ago Heinrich Bruiners (@Heinie1) romped to a five-shot victory at Euphoria Golf Estate during the Vodacom Origins of Golf series presented by Samsung. After a season in the winners’ circle he’s back to defend the title and the good memories are helping to rebuild his passion for the game.
“Life is completely different from last year. It was amazing yesterday when I got here, because everything came back to me. I think the setup suits me, so I’m hoping for another great week and it’s the first time in a while that I’m really excited to play,” he said.
The 26-year-old from George handled the windy conditions perfectly last year and carded rounds of 68, 69, 71 to finish five shots clear of Adilson da Silva and Jake Roos.
It was the pinnacle of a long road to recovery for Bruiners, who suffered serious injuries during a motor accident in 2012. It was uncertain whether he would be able to play professional sport again and he spent much of that year coaching at the Fancourt Foundation.
In August 2013 his runaway victory at the Annika Sorenstam-designed layout turned everything around. Bruiners finally had a maiden title under his belt and exemption into all Sunshine Tour events until the end of 2014.
“In the practice round yesterday I hit a three wood and then a soft nine-iron to give on the first hole and all of the good memories came back. It was refreshing to have that experience and I’m pretty excited about the week now that I’m here,” he said.
Returning to Limpopo has given him extra reason to smile – he handled the course like no other one year ago.
“If the wind blows again, like last time, then I think I’ll do quite well. I’ve been trying to regain focus, even though I’ve done quite well this year. I’ve been lacking that last bit of motivation, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there for my title defence this week,” he said.
Da Silva is Brazil’s top-ranked golfer and he’ll be keen to inspire his team with a good showing at Euphoria this week. A first-round 74 tripped his charge for the title last year and the 42-year-old will look to contend from the start this time around.
A pre-qualifier for the final 15 spots was held on Tuesday and Lindani Ndwandwe led the day with a four-under-par 68. Maritz Wessels reached the clubhouse on two-under-par, while Le Roux Ferreira and Rhys West shot one-under. Jeff Inglis (pictured left) was the last player to earn a spot and he did it in a playoff that included six players vying for the final place.