ItÂs been a quiet year for Jaco van Zyl, and the best place he could stage a late-season comeback is ÂThe Home of GolfÂ, which hosts the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this week.
The Lonehill resident has claimed top-10s at all four of his Sunshine Tour events this year, but has failed to make his expected breakthrough on the European Tour. Last year he took a share of ninth at Alfred Dunhill, which plays out across The Old Course at St Andrews, Kingsbarn and Carnoustie. If he was ever going to rescue his season, here and now is the time and place.
The 33-year-old is no longer a bright-eyed youngster, and wisdom will have taught him to prepare during the quiet second-half of September.
Ahead of this brief September pause he was playing good golf, and was last seen dominating the fairways of Royal Park I Roveri. He shot a Sunday 64 there to finish tied 10th in the BMW Italian Open, wrapping up the tournament just one stroke behind Ryder Cup heroes Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Last year van Zyl strung together consecutive 67s ahead of the weekend, but his hopes of winning turned grey as Michael Hoey continued to dominate, eventually taking a wire-to-wire victory at the seaside.
With 17 fellow South Africans in the field, van Zyl has every reason to feel confident out there, and this week heÂll surely look to get a growing monkey off his back.
Joining the fray is Louis Oosthuizen, who has a rich history at The Old Course. Not only did he finish tied fifth at the Alfred Dunhill Links last year, he was crowned the 2010 Open Champion there.
OosthuizenÂs season has been anything but quiet Â not only did he lose a playoff against Bubba Watson for a green jacket, heÂs taken two European Tour victories and only missed one cut the whole year. This week the odds are surely in ShrekÂs favour.