He made it count down the stretch at Royal Harare Golf Club in last year’s Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open, and defending champion Jake Roos (@RoosJake) is going to try to duplicate the dose on Thursday when the 2014 version of the Sunshine Tour tournament gets underway.
He closed out his victory with a final-round 67, holding off Darren Fichardt who carded a level-par 72 and Italy’s Francesco Laporta, who was unable to repeat his third-round heroics which brought him a course record-equalling 63 as he, too, closed with a 72.
And while he knows what he has to do if he is to defend his title successfully, he’s not willing to get ahead of himself. “With golf, you can’t have too many expectations in the early days of a tournament,” he said, “so I’m just going to play some golf. I hope to make some good swings out there and that by the final day I’ll be there or thereabouts and you never know what can happen.”
Roos didn’t have the ideal build-up to the tournament after a trip to Spain for the European Tour tournament there last week during which he missed the cut. “I enjoyed the trip, but we had some tough conditions for the first two days, and I didn’t get through the cut, but it was good experience and I’ll learn from it,” he said.
It is that willingness to learn from his experiences that make Roos a six-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, and such a tough competitor every time he tees it up.
He will have some stern opposition in the field. For starters, there are some Zimbabwean golfers who would love to be the first local player since Mark McNulty in 2000 to win the home open championship. Ryan Cairns is the leading Zimbabwean player, but there are 32 others in the field all keen to make an impression – including eight amateurs.
From the South African side of the border, he will be up against some players from the Sunshine Tour who are in good form. Titch Moore won last week’s Telkom Business PGA Championship from an unlucky Ulrich van den Berg, and they will both be keen to continue their good runs.
Trevor Fisher Jnr has come down from his high of winning the 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup and he is certainly the kind of player who can win again soon.
There are plenty of others who have looked like potential winners on the Sunshine Tour this year too: Merrick Bremner, Jacques Blaauw, Danie van Tonder, Oliver Bekker and JJ Senekal chief among them.
“It was a big blessing to win it last year,” said Roos, “but I can’t have too many expectations this year. I’m just going to play and if I’m close after the first couple of rounds, then we’ll see.”