Oliver wants some more in MTC Namibia PGA Championship

Oliver Bekker finished in a share of 51st last time he played a tournament at the Windhoek Country Club, and a lot has changed for him ahead of this week’s R1.2-million MTC Namibia PGA Championship.

He played 46 tournaments in his rookie season, and finished 48th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, and the Namibian event in 2008 was not one of his best finishes.

He had five top 20 finishes mixed in between his eight missed cuts, and his 2010 season showed a marked improvement with five top 10s in his 24 tournaments for 26th place on the Order of Merit.

He matched his tally of top 10s in 2010, but slipped one position in the Order of Merit, but he had a breakthrough performance in the Nashua Masters in November when his closing 66 was just not enough to match winner Warren Abery.

And as he begins his first round on Thursday in the Namibian capital, he takes a new-found confidence on the fairways after an eye-popping performance in the Telkom PGA Championship behind winner George Coetzee.

He closed with a pair of seven-under-par 65s in fifth place, but it was his ability to keep things together under pressure which was different from anything he had achieved before.

When things got a little tough in his opening nine in the third round with a double-bogey and a bogey, he responded calmly with five birdies in his closing nine, including four in a row to right the ship.

And on the final day, he didn’t put a foot wrong, and played his final four holes in five-under, with three birdies and an eagle.

That kind of play has him in 14th position on the Order of Merit, and on the soggy Windhoek fairways with the Namibian bush really long in the rough, he’s going to have to be as accurate as he was in his last tournament.

Accuracy will be his biggest test, with the likes of Branden Grace, Jbe’ Kruger, Neil Schietekat and Neil Cheetham to contend with – all of who were very straight for most of the week in the Telkom PGA Championship.

With defending champion Hennie Otto – he won in 2009 when the event was played at Rossmund in Swakopmund – not in the field, the last man to win in Namibia is Zimbabwe’s TC Charamba, who beat Nic Henning and Merrick Bremner in a playoff in November 2008. He, too, can put pressure on Bekker.

But the big Stellenbosch pro is surely ready for a maiden victory – if it all falls into place for him.

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