Hennie Otto won the Italian Open in 2008, and while he doesn’t have to win it this year, a good performance in the tournament this week will go a long way to helping him retain his European Tour Card for 2014.
And he will be regretting a pair of triple-bogeys in his final round of last week’s KLM Open which saw him tumble out of contention for victory in the event won by hometown boy Joost Luiten and down the leaderboard into a share of 26th.
That leaves him in 119th on the 2013 Race to Dubai, with the top 110 players at the end of the season having full playing rights for 2014.
The first of those triple bogeys in the KLM Open came on the seventh after he had birdied his way to 10-under-par, one shot off the pace which was being set by Miguel Angel Jimenez at that point. He had pushed his tee shot right into heavy rough, and an attempted hack out instead of taking an unplayable eventually saw him card an eight on the par-five.
He followed that with a bogey on eight, and again on 11 before stopping the rot with a birdie on 12.
But it all went pear-shaped again with a second-triple bogey on 13 – a poor hole which was once again immediately followed by a bogey on 14 – and his chances of challenging for a top-10 finish, let alone the win, were down the tubes.
Those six strokes lost cost him in the region of €50,000 – the difference in prize money he took home and what he could have won if had made just pars on those two holes. And that cash would have shifted him comfortably inside the top 110 on the Race to Dubai and made his season-ending push a little easier.
The two South Africans who finished ahead of him in the KLM Open, Thomas Aiken and Darren Fichardt, came home in a share of 16th, and find themselves in 33rd and 47th position respectively on the Race to Dubai.
That shows the value of a victory, which, of course, takes the pressure off having to finish inside the top 110 to play on the following year. Fichardt won the Africa Open and Aiken the Avantha Masters. Dawie van der Walt is another South African currently inside the top 110, and, with his Tshwane Open win, he knows he will be able to play in Europe in 2014 should his attempt at getting onto the PGA Tour fail.
Behind him Jaco van Zyl is in 100th position, and needs to turn his game around to stay inside the top 110, and, should James Kingston in 108th finish the year with a flourish, he may well regain his playing privileges in Europe.
With Otto on the outside looking in are Tjaart van der Walt (118), Jbe’ Kruger (122), Keith Horne (126) and Justin Walters (129).
Like Otto, they will all be looking for decent performances in this week’s Open d’Italia Lindt at the Golf Club Torino.