Jaco van Zyl has played just six tournaments in 2013 and won three of them. Now, after a break of nearly nine weeks, he will be back in action in the BMG PGA Championship at Wentworth this week.
He returns to action on the European Tour after a stunning stretch which netted him over R2.5-million in prize money for third spot on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit – and €138,842 for 79th position in the 2013 Race to Dubai – as well as the R2-million Bonus Pool prize for topping the 2013 Chase to the Investec Cup.
He’s chosen a tournament that is as tough as anything else on the European Tour to get back into the fray – one in which he missed the cut last year after he opened with a five-over-par 77 which left him too much to do in round two if he was to play on the weekend.
He’s also chosen to reappear in the company of some of the toughest opposition imaginable: Of the world’s top 50 on April 15, 20 players will be there, including defending champion Luke Donald who will be shooting for a third consecutive victory in the flagship tournament of the European Tour.
Other South Africans who were inside the top 50 at that cut-off date were Open champion Ernie Els, Branden Grace, George Coetzee and Richard Sterne.
Also in that list facing Van Zyl are the likes of world number two Rory McIlroy, the in-form Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia and English stars Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, for whom a title at Wentworth ranks right up there near a major victory.
For Van Zyl, repeating the consistency that took him to victory in his last tournament will be the key on the challenging Wentworth layout. He made just four bogeys in the week of the Investec Cup as he eased his way to a play-off victory over Hennie Otto.
He will also need to keep calm, just as he did in that play-off with Otto, where, despite dumping his approach in the water, he put his fourth shot two feet from the pin, and tapped in for par. Otto had two-and-half feet to match that par and take play down the 18th once again – and it lipped out.
Van Zyl’s face was impassive as he looked on, and, although he may have been churning inside, that kind of ability to absorb pressure may just be useful this week at Wentworth.