He’s lean and he’s back. Jaco van Zyl returns to tournament golf this week when he tees off on Wednesday in the final R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung at Pezula Resort and Spa.
After three top-10 finishes in the early stages of the 2014 Sunshine Tour season, he tried to defend his Telkom Business PGA Championship title in April, saying that it would be his last tournament for the year as he headed off for knee surgery to sort out a problem that had been plaguing him for some time.
“They said I have six weeks or two months in a wheel chair,” he said at the time. “I’ll try to get through that first and then get a bit more mobile. After that I can start with physiotherapy and hopefully it will improve.”
The physiotherapy turned out to be exactly what was required. “I went for physio three times a week for four months,” he said, “and then some sports rehab for another two months after that. Recovery was nice and quick.”
It also has seen him return leaner than he has been for some time. “I’ve been working pretty hard,” he said. “I lost 10 kilograms in the recovery time, and I worked really hard in the gym for the last three months.”
He has not played any competitive rounds since the surgery, and the man who has won 14 times on the Sunshine Tour has no high expectations of his game on his tournament return. “I’ve played three social rounds of golf in the last two months, so I haven’t been playing too much,” he said. “I did a little bit of work last week for the first time, so I’m sure it’s going to be a little bit scratchy this week. It’s a case of being back out there again, enjoying myself and trying to iron out some of the creases.”
He thought he would only be able to return by January, and with the South African Open Championship now moved to January, he’s going to be able to get himself in good shape to play in that final tournament of the 2014 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in an attempt to lift himself above his current 11th position.
“I’ve still got a couple of events coming up,” he said, “so it should be all good and hopefully it won’t take too long to get back into the swing of things, back onto the leaderboard, and back into contention soon.”