Dawie van der Walt is playing in the Open Championship after an extraordinary year which saw him win the Sunshine Tour’s 2013 Order of Merit – a feat which gives the winner that privilege every year.
Van der Walt was a two-time winner on the European Tour last year, capturing the 2013 Tshwane Open and Nelson Mandela Championship titles. He has played on the Web.com Tour from 2011, where his best finish was second at the 2012 Cox Classic. He finished 52nd on the 2013 Web.com Tour money list.
In both the Tshwane Open and the Nelson Mandela Championship, he picked up a head of steam, and played superlative golf to stay clear of all challengers on his way to victory. And he’s a little like that: Once he gets his game going, it goes very well indeed.
In addition, he’s pretty tenacious too – he won’t let go. That was shown in early June when he lost on the 11th hole to New Zealander Steve Alker in the longest play-off in Web.com Tour history. Alker and Van der Walt parred for first 10 holes in the play-off at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake, Ohio, before Alker finally broke through with a three-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th.
If the wind comes up at Hoylake – as it almost inevitably will – Van der Walt will battle to impose his towering iron shots on the links course, and he will have a significant part of his game rendered relatively ineffective.
But if he gets the bit between his teeth, he could be in for a wild ride.