Jaco Ahlers (@JacoAhlers) got himself into contention the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung tournament at Vaal de Grace in the opening two rounds which gave him a chance of chasing that second professional victory he so badly craves.
It also left him very satisfied with his preparation ahead of his journey to Spain in November to take a tilt at the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.
He was particularly pleased to be playing four Sunshine Tour tournaments in five weeks before he rolls the dice to gain the coveted ticket to playing on one of the biggest golf stages in the world.
“I usually find I start playing well after a couple of tournaments,” said Ahlers, “and with three in a row now, and then a week off before my final one ahead of the Q-School, things are panning out very nicely.”
Ahlers is currently 23rd on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, a little below his career-high finish last year of 18th place, but he has been trying really hard to get himself into the European Tour frame after his share of sixth in last December’s Nelson Mandela Championship.
He got an invitation to play in this year’s M2M Russian Open in July, where he missed the cut after rounds of 74 and 75. He had hoped to follow that up with a few more tournaments on the circuit, and was granted invitations to the Made in Denmark tournament, the D+D Real Czech Masters and the Open d’Italia in three consecutive weeks in August.
“I don’t know what the problem was, but I was just unable to get visas for any of the tournaments,” said Ahlers. “It was a bit embarrassing for me, having got the invites and then being unable to take them up.”
He was also unable to answer a call-up to this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship after he got the call last Wednesday. “I really couldn’t get the visa quickly enough, and I really didn’t want to be rushing in to play on some of the most difficult courses without some decent practice time,” he said.
With six top-10s this year, he is pleased with his game – almost: “I have been trying so hard for that second win,” he said. “I almost feel as if it will come and I’ll be able to sit back and tell myself that this has been a great year.
“My game is good. There’s a little problem with my swing, but I can control it, especially when there is a little wind about. My putting’s let me down a bit, though. For instance, in the first round here, I missed three five-footers, and then another two in the second round. And I haven’t been taking enough advantage of the par-fives. I really should be right up there.”
He gets his chance to show what he can do when he heads to Spain next month. If he gets a visa!