As the Sunshine Tour continues to see its young golfers succeed on the world stage, Jean Hugo has set his sights on gaining his European Tour card this year.
Hugo is the golfer of whom Ernie Els said, ÂHe has more talent in his little finger than I have in my whole body,Â and he showed that ability with victory in the Volvo Finnish Open in 2000. He went on to finish 34th on the European Tour Order of Merit in 2001.
The 35-year-old has won 11 times on the Sunshine Tour, with his first victory coming in his rookie season in the 1999 Zimbabwe Open, and his latest in May in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Pretoria Country Club.
But his best performances have been reserved for home soil after he stopped playing in Europe, and it has been difficult for him to get back to the bigger arena Â until now.
ÂTheyÂve moved the SA Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship up for us,Â said Hugo. ÂSo this is the first year in a long time that IÂm actually going to try and go to the European Tour School because it doesnÂt clash with the SA Open.
ÂIf it was any other tournament, I would have played, but the SA Open is a big one for our players. I wonÂt miss that even if I have to miss Tour School.
Hugo felt that there is a sense that the eyes of the world were on South African golf. ÂWith the Winter Tour having been recognised with some world ranking points, the world is watching. WeÂve got a lot of major champions Â past and present Â in the mix, so itÂs good for South African golf,Â he said.
Hugo was optimistic about his own chances of qualifying to play in Europe. ÂI feel IÂm a better golfer than I was 10 years ago when I was on the European Tour, but you get one week in a year to try and go back and get your card.
ÂItÂs tough, but we will have come off a good stretch of tournaments. So I think itÂs going to be good this year.Â