Hugo wants to join list of Di Data champions

One of the longest-running sponsorships on the Sunshine Tour will be celebrated with the 16th playing of the R3.2-million Dimension Data Pro-Am over the three courses at Fancourt from February 17-20.

It is an event which has had four winners of major championships in its list of champions – Nick Price, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Louis Oosthuizen – as well as many other illustrious names.

Lee Westwood was just 26 when he won the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Sun City in 2000, and he went on to win five tournaments on the European Tour that season, as well as the Cisco World Match Play Championship.

He was headed for the top. He spent over 230 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings between 1998 and 2001, and although his woes and his descent into depths of the rankings are well documented, it’s equally well known that he is now world number one.

But someone who missed the cut behind Westwood that weekend on the Gary Player Country Club was Jean Hugo. He was just 25 then, and his career trajectory has been very different from Westwood’s.

He was in his second year on the tour, having won the Rookie of the Year title in 1999 with a victory in the Zimbabwe Open, but rounds of 71 and 79 left him at six-over, two short of making it to the weekend.

He was to go on to win his only tournament outside Southern Africa later that year, when he took the 2000 Volvo Finnish Open on the European Challenge Tour.

There were seven more Sunshine Tour wins for Hugo over the years until he hit a purple patch in 2010, with three victories, six top 10s, as well as a spot in the Open Championship at St Andrews after he shared first place in the International Final Qualifier-Africa played in Johannesburg.

He didn’t have a great week in the Dimension Data Pro-Am in its first year at the Fancourt courses, finishing in a share of 34th after rounds of one-over 73 on Outeniqua, one-under 72 on The Links, and concluding scores of three-under 69 and one-over 73 on Montagu for a total of two-under 287, 14 behind champion Darren Fichardt.

His best finish in the tournament was a share of eighth in 2008 behind winner James Kamte.

And there is no-one who is more aware that he can win a tournament as important on the Sunshine Tour as the Dimension Data Pro-Am than Hugo himself.

With an invitation into the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational as an incentive for the winner of the tournament this year, he will be giving it his all.

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