Jean the target ahead of Platinum Classic

It was his third title last year, but this year defending champion Jean Hugo already has three under the belt ahead of Thursday’s tee-off of the Platinum Classic presented by UD Trucks at Mooinooi Golf Club.

Last year, Hugo carded a final-round six-under-par 66 to hold off a charging Michiel Bothma who came home in 64 around the only nine-hole course on which a professional tournament is played in South Africa.

This time, he goes into the R500,000 54-hole event with his third title of the 2011 Sunshine Tour already under his belt as recently as last week after he won the series finale of the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Legend Golf & Safari Estate.

And he goes into the Platinum Classic knowing that keeping his form is important as he prepares to play in the Final Stage of the European Tour’s Qualifying School at the end of November – a second chance at making it on one of the world’s richest circuits.

While Bothma is not in the field this year, he will have to contend with the likes of Oliver Bekker, who won his maiden professional title two weeks ago in Kimberley in the Northern Cape Classic.

While Bekker was somewhat off the pace last week – he finished in a share of 27th, 10 strokes behind Hugo at Legend – the taste of victory, as well as the success in finally pulling off a victory from a good start will make him a doughty opponent for Hugo.

Ulrich van den Berg is also likely to be a tough customer for Hugo to handle: He finished in a share of eighth at Legend, five off the pace, but he battled stomach cramps from possible food poisoning all day, and it was a gritty performance which saw him close in two-under-par 70 in heat and humidity and collapse on a couch afterwards.

Making up the field of 72 players are 10 who made it though Tuesday’s pre-qualifier player at Irene Country Club. Lourens Kleynhans led the way with a five-under-par 67, two shots clear of Zimbabwe’s Sean Farrell.

Also in the field were JJ Senekal, Ryan Hood, Francois van Vuuren, Don Black, Michael du Toit, Stuart Clark, John McClean and Johann Dannhauser.

McClean and Dannhauser had to survive a playoff with Tsietsi Chabangu and Garry Hill for the final two places after the four all finished on two-over 74.

They will all be chasing Hugo, who will be looking to add one more Sunshine Tour title to his haul which stands at 13 after last week’s victory.

© 2016 Sunshine Tour. All rights reserved. Website constructed by OCS Sport