They call him Mr VOG. And with good reason. Jean Hugo has won more Vodacom Origins of Golf titles than any other player and, as he sets his sights on his 12th victory in this series at the St Francis Bay Links, he has again indicated he will be the man to beat.
The Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung gets under way on Thursday and finishes on Saturday and Hugo’s form in the traditional pro-am sent out a warning to the rest of the field that this 40-year-old is as hungry as ever.
He shot 65 on Tuesday, setting a new course record, and was a little disappointed that no play was possible on Wednesday’s second day of the pro-am because of torrential rain.
“I played really nicely on Tuesday, but conditions were perfect,” said the Centurion-based professional who has pocketed more than R1.5-million in prize money from the Vodacom Origins of Golf series.
“It’s a pity we couldn’t get out there today (Wednesday) because it would have been nice to have played the course under different conditions.”
The forecast for the rest of the week is fairly promising, with a small chance of rain on Thursday and clear skies on both Friday and Saturday.
This fabulous course on the outskirts of St Francis Bay is a real test of a player’s ability, with accuracy a premium off the tee. There are a number of “blind” tee shots and the undulating greens are well protected by bunkers. Jack Nicklaus described it as “the best links course I have ever designed”.
“It requires a bit of thought,” said Hugo. “There are a number of holes that really get you thinking and I reckon the players who manage their game well will be up there this week.”
With Wednesday’s play in the pro-am being washed out, Hugo and his amateur partner Ignus Kempen were declared winners… an ominous sign for the rest of the field this week.
As is always the case with these tournaments, Vodacom donated R94,600 to charities against gender-based violence, R50,000 for Tuesday’s “putt-off” and R44,600 for the birdies scored in the pro-am (R200 for each of the 223 birdies).
By Guy Hawthorne (Michael Vlismas Media)