The Dainfern local had a flying start to the 2013 season, successively winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am, Telkom PGA Championship and the Investec Cup. But he’s descended off the scene over the last four months, finishing no better than tied 35th since May.
As the Euro season begins its crescendo, 34-year-old van Zyl must look to top and tail his year with success. At 100th in the Race to Dubai he’s in danger of missing out on the DP World Championship, but there are more pressing matters at hand. The top 110 keep their Euro cards for the following season. At the beginning of the year it was unthinkable that van Zyl might not retain his card, but that danger has become apparent. Such is golf.
The 13-time Sunshine Tour champion faces some big pressure, but his opening 68 at Crans sur Sierre Golf Club is the first step towards alleviation. It was a solid day on the Swiss fairways for van Zyl, who got off to a fast start when he birdied the first and seventh. Bogeys at the par four 10th and 12th looked set to unhorse his charge, but the father of two birdied the 14th, 16th and 18th to turn his round into a success.
While India’s Anirban Lahiri raced to the lead in eight-under-par 63, van Zyl kept pace with the front pack, sharing 14th with 15 of his competitors.
The first day is done and van Zyl has made a good foundation for himself, but the following rounds will play a huge role in deciding whether the European journeyman will continue to travel.