Martin Maritz will have one less regret as he arrives in Sandwich, Kent this week ahead of next weekÂs Open Championship at Royal St GeorgeÂs.
Maritz, one of two South African qualifiers together with Neil Schietekat from JanuaryÂs International Final Qualifying event at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, leaves his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma today to prepare to play in his first major championship.
ÂWhen I stopped playing full time a few years ago there were two things I regretted,Â he said. ÂNot winning a tour event and not playing in a major. Well one down, one to go!Â
He playing full time again, or pretty close to it, and he had a good run in the Joburg Open after his superlative opening round of nine-under-par 62 Â spoiled only by a tough closing six-over 77 which left him in a share of 33rd.
He managed a top 10 finish in the rain-shortened Zimbabwe Open, and has been playing mainly mini-tour events on the Adams and Hooters Tours in the United States since.
ÂI have had some decent finishes but nothing spectacular,Â he said. ÂLet me just say that these guys here on the mini tours know how to shoot low!Â
His last event ahead of the Open was the Victoria Texas Open, where he shot 68-71-69-67 for a top-10 finish. ÂOne good thing is that it has been very windy this spring here in Tulsa and I have had some good practice hitting it low,Â he said ahead of his departure to England.
ÂI need to get acclimatised and play some links golf to get ready for those deep bunkers and quirky bounces,Â he added. ÂI have been watching video footage from Royal St GeorgeÂs to get familiar with everything. When I arrive at the course for the first time, probably straight from the airport, I am definitely going to feel like a tourist the first day or so and soak in the atmosphere as much as possible. After that I will get down to business!Â
For Maritz, business will mean trying to recreate that superb form from the Joburg Open first round. ÂMy game is still a work in progress and I am excited to see what I can do next week on the big stage,Â he said. ÂGolf is all about timing and peaking at the right time. I just hope I haven’t peaked yet.Â
But heÂs not going to let performance anxiety spoil his experience: ÂIt has been a lifelong dream of mine to play in the Open,Â he said. ÂMy goal is to make it count but also to enjoy every second of it. Good or bad, it WILL be a life changing experience.Â
He will be updating his website and blog with videos and pictures from the Open if anyone is interested in following him on www.martinmaritzgolf.com
ÂI think nothing will beat standing on that first tee with them announcing your name and you fumbling around trying to put the ball on the tee,Â he said.