MJ’s hopes becoming reality at Joburg Open

MJ Daffue has always wanted to play golf at the highest level, but would never have imagined that he’d be in contention at the Joburg Open one month after graduating from Qualifying School.

“It’s definitely living the dream, but I’m just taking it day by day. It will probably sink in tomorrow morning. I’ve just got to be careful not to get caught up in that and just play golf,” he said.

The rookie reached eight-under-par at the 36-hole mark, which means that he’ll tee up alongside the leaders – which include the likes of Charl Schwartzel and Richard Sterne – on Saturday.

“I’ve just got to be careful not to get caught up in that and just play golf. They don’t know me, but I’m sure we’ll get to know each other,” said Daffue.

He’ll have to deal with more than big names, however.

“It’s the first time I’m playing with grandstands and ropes, so I had to get used to that, but so far it’s been going well. I’ll have to deal with the crowds tomorrow and prepare myself mentally beforehand. I like to relish the moment, so maybe under the gun with lots of people I can give them something entertaining,” said the 24-year-old.

Daffue did well to break par on the tougher East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, which will provide some confidence at the weekend.

“I wasn’t too happy with my game today on the front nine, because I was a little nervous. On the back nine, shot by shot it got better. I’ll take my 70, because it’s playing hard today and the wind is blowing,” he said.

The plucky rookie was excited to be in contention at a tournament that has launched the careers of so many young, great golfers. Come Sunday he could well be following in the footsteps of a young Sterne or Schwartzel or Branden Grace.

“Over the last four years I’ve been in the States, but I always follow the Joburg Open online. I think part of why young guys come through here is because no one knows them. And the young guys play with passion and enthusiasm, enjoying the moment,” he said.

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