Magnus avoids hype as he gets into contention

While a lot of the hype in round three of the South African Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate centred on the explosive golf produced by George Coetzee in pursuit of Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, one man quietly played his way into contention.

Stenson’s countryman Magnus A Carlsson, whose opening rounds of 68 and 67 saw him take sole third place, a well-constructed four-under-par 68 saw him move into second with Coetzee, three shots off the pace.

Many would term Carlsson a ‘classic journeyman’. The 32-year-old certainly hasn’t had it all his own way since he turned pro in 2001. Intermittent seasons on the European Tour have been overshadowed by seven visits to European Tour Qualifying School and a lot of time spent playing the Challenge Tour.

Carlsson has struggled to establish himself on the main tour, but he never lost his determination and always believed he could succeed. “I’ve always known that if I practice a little bit harder I am going to get better. Even though I’ve had a couple of downs – going to the Q-school and missing the card. I’ve always known I can get better at golf, and that’s what has kept me motivated,” he said.

This year the Swede has enjoyed one of the finest seasons of his career, and he has already secured his place in the top 115 in the Race to Dubai. The feat will ensure a full-playing card for 2013, but, surprisingly, the inspiration came from his trip to the Africa Open at the beginning of the year.

“I practiced really hard at the beginning of the season when I didn’t get to play that much. The funny thing is, I played with Thomas Aiken in South Africa in January, and he said that a couple of years back he only had a category 12 membership and got his card, so why not! It’s been really good for me,” he said.

South Africa is a place where Carlsson has played some of his best golf. The best example of this was at the 2008 Joburg Open when he went around the two courses at Royal Johannesbug in 271, only to be denied his maiden European Tour victory in a play-off by Richard Sterne. Nonetheless, it is a place Carlsson loves playing his golf.

“I love it here! South Africa always takes good care of me and the weather’s always really nice. This time of year back in Sweden it’s really cold so it’s nice to come down here and play your fantastic golf courses,” he said.

He’s in a great position to turn Serengeti into his new favourite place.

By Michael Todt

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