Article: Michael Vlismas
As the temperature climbs in Johannesburg, so does the intensity in the build-up to the lucrative summer leg of the Sunshine Tour. And this week’s BMG Classic plays a key role in what South Africa’s professionals hope will be a major summer for them.
This R600 000 54-hole tournament, which tees off at the historic Glendower Golf Club on Friday, is played just over a month before the first of a run of European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments on the local Tour.
And the significance of that South African Open also being played at Glendower is not lost on the field this week.
Former South African Open champion and European Tour campaigner Hennie Otto is in the field this week, as well as defending BMG Classic champion Teboho Sefatsa and rookie professional Haydn Porteous.
And Port Elizabeth professional Lyle Rowe is also hoping that his improving form takes another big step forward this week.
Rowe has challenged for two of his last three tournaments, finishing second and third on those occasions.
“At least my game seems to be coming right for the summer. That’s always a big focus because you can hopefully have a nice Christmas if it’s gone well,” he said on Wednesday.
His first look at the course also has him confident of his chances of making the BMG Classic his maiden Sunshine Tour victory.
“The course is in great shape, as usual. The greens are superb, and they’ve obviously narrowed the fairways a bit. But it suits my eye. There are a lot of holes where if you drive it well you’re in a good position to make birdies and eagles.”
Rowe’s change in form ends a frustrating period for him in which he struggled to make cuts and started questioning his swing.
“I went through a slump two months ago, but it’s gradually coming back now. I’m just trying to keep things simple. When you’re struggling you start thinking too much and then the game goes all over the show. So now I just stick to a few key swing thoughts. I just need a few putts to drop to get that win. The guys that are winning are making putts. I’m not putting badly, but those one or two misses make a difference at the end of the week.”
Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya won Wednesday’s qualifying tournament with a round of three-under-par 69.
Photo: Lyle Rowe joins a strong field in this week's BMG Classic at Glendower Golf Club