He’s only played the course once before, but Jean Hugo will use his experience of living on the Highveld to cope with whatever Parys Golf and Country Estate throws his way in this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf event.
Hugo has already won an event on the Sunshine Tour’s winter swing this year at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Langebaan tournament to take a record eighth victory in that long-running series, and he will be looking to become a multiple winner this year again. He won three times in 2011 and twice in 2010 for five of his eight wins in the series.
“After the high of Langebaan, I didn’t play so well at the Wild Coast,” said Hugo of his 44th-place finish in the Wild Waves Golf challenge there last week. “But I had a week off and did some work on my game. It’s a new week, and I always try and get myself up for these Vodacom events because I’ve done so well in the past.”
In this year’s series, before his win at Langebaan, it has been something of a mixed bag for Hugo, with a best finish of a share of 16th in the opening event at Simola, and a share of 25th at Selborne and of 21st of Euphoria.
Part of the reason is that he and wife Niki welcomed their first son last year, and that forms an important part of his life these days. “Spending time with him is as important as golf is for me at the moment,” he said.
He finds himself up against the likes of Jacques Blaauw, who won the opening two events of the series at Simola and at Selborne, and Heinrich Bruiners, who took the title at Euphoria.
But perhaps the biggest threat will come from a veteran like Desvonde Botes, who, while he hasn’t won on the Sunshine Tour since 2006, finished second last week at the Wild Coast behind Andrew Curlewis for the seventh top-10 finish of a very successful year which sees him currently ninth on the Order of Merit.
But the reality is there are more than 40 other players in the 72-man professional field for the tournament who have won on the Sunshine Tour, so Hugo knows he will be facing a challenge from more than just the course and the conditions.
In the pre-qualifying round for the R600,000 tournament over 54 holes which begins on Wednesday, Chris Erasmus led 10 players into the main draw with a three-under-par total of 69. Behind him, Coenie Bester was the unlucky player on level-par 72 who dropped out in an eight-man play-off for the final seven spots.