Oliver Bekker has always dreamed of playing The Open, but has always fallen just short at qualifying. This week at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington heÂs looking make it through at International Final Qualifying Africa.
ÂIt would be great to play the oldest major. ItÂs got so much history, and as a professional golfer youÂve been watching it since you started playing golf, dreaming about having a chance to play The Open,Â he said.
The 27-year-old is looking to secure one of three spots on offer but heÂll face serious competition over the 36-hole qualifier, which boasts a field containing eight European Tour winners and 27 Sunshine Tour winners.
Since winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am last year, Bekker has taken a step up in the golfing world, and tried his hand at the WGC-Bridgestone Championship last year. That, along with his Telkom PGA Pro-Am win at the beginning of 2013, means he is ready to try and play his way to Muirfield.
ÂIÂve come close to qualifying a few times, and hopefully this year I can have a good couple of rounds and make my way to The Open. My wish is to play this year, but you have to take things step by step. Eventually you want to win The Open, thatÂs the ultimate experience in golf,Â he said.
ÂIÂve played St Andrews a couple of times and played a bit of links golf, but IÂve never played Muirfield. IÂm very excited for the week and I would be ecstatic if I could make it through!Â
Returning for another chance to play The Open are last yearÂs three qualifiers Â Andrew Georgiou, Grant Veenstra and BrazilÂs Adilson da Silva.
Georgiou relished his time at Royal Lytham & St Annes last year, and organized practice rounds with Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els. It was quite special for the young man to practice alongside the Big Easy before he went on to win the Claret Jug.
ÂIt was a very special week for me, playing alongside those players, walking on those fairways. ItÂs The Open Â every hole feels like the 18th and the whole week seems to be one long dream,Â he said.
With 75 players vying for just three spots, the contest over Royal Johannesburg & KensingtonÂs East Course is sure to be fierce. Each and every player will be dreaming of their chance to tee up at Muirfield from July 17.