ItÂs been a quiet time for Nic Henning, but winning the pre-qualifier for the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf final at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort will give him a boost towards the end of a tough season.
The 42-year-old veteran with four Sunshine Tour victories to his credit has made just one cut on the local circuit this year, and has missed out on the two occasions he made the final field in the Vodacom Origins events in Pretoria and at Simola in Knysna.
He pieced together a two-under-par 70 to head the field in the pre-qualifier with Ockie Strydom, Ryan Hood, Mark Williams and Johan Etsebeth a stroke behind him.
Derek Scullard carded a level-par 72 for the sixth available spot, while JJ Senekal and Steven Ferreira shared seventh at one-over.
Irvin Mazibuko and Tyrone Ryan filled the final two spots with their 74s.
In the 54-hole main tournament which gets underway on Wednesday, Jean Hugo will hope to end another prolific season on the series with a victory.
Hugo has already won twice on the series this year, in Pretoria and Knysna. And of the other three events to date, heÂs finished third, fifth and 14th.
His love of this series and the courses that host it is reflected in the six titles heÂs won on it since it teed off on the Sunshine Tour in 2004.
ÂI like the courses on this series because they are usually tough courses and you have to knuckle down if you want to lift the trophy,Â he said.
A win on this magnificent course in the shadow of the Hanglip Mountain would earn him what some would consider a rightful place in the history of the series as one of only three players to have won three times in one season.
To date, Thomas Aiken and Brandon Pieters are the only ones to have achieved this.
As the final event on the six-tournament series, this weekÂs field features all but one of the champions this year, including Chris Swanepoel, Darren Fichardt and Hugo. Adilson da Silva has withdrawn to compete in South America.
But they will face a challenge in this par-72 layout, where each of the 18 holes was designed by individual golfers, including Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose to name a few.
ItÂs billed as the longest par-72 golf course in the world. This week it will play to roughly 6,744 metres, but is able to be stretched beyond this with variable tee options. The opening five holes are all a massive challenge.
The first is a par-five that plays around 526 metres long for the professionals, followed by the roughly 418-metre par-four second and third holes, the 182-metre par-three fourth and the 448-metre par-four fifth hole.
ÂWe call that ÂThe StretchÂ. ItÂs the toughest opening five holes of any course in the world,Â says golf director David Riddle.
ÂIf you step onto the sixth tee box at level par, then you feel like a king and are ready to tackle the rest of the course. I think a winning score of around seven or eight under would be a good effort this week.Â
With reporting by Michael Vlismas