After a year of anxiety during his father’s illness, Sunshine Tour professional Shaun Norris is starting to show the kind of form which saw him win the inaugural Africa Open back in 2008.
The 32-year-old who plays out of Silver Lakes Country Club in Pretoria also won the 2011 Nashua Masters in his 13-year career on the Sunshine Tour, with his best season in terms of his performance on the Order of Merit coming in 2012 when he finished in 17th place behind winner Branden Grace. He had top-25 performances in four of the big tournaments co-sanctioned with the European Tour that year, with his best coming with his share of 11th in the South African Open Championship.
“Dad’s back home again after being in hospital for so long, so things are much better,” said Norris. “It was very difficult to concentrate on anything else while he was in hospital.”
The worries saw him miss 16 cuts in the 22 tournaments he played in 2013, a performance which pulled up the handbrake on chasing a place on the European Tour at which he had started working the previous year.
The transformation in his game brought about by the change in his personal circumstances was plain for all to see in his opening round of six-under-par 66 in the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung tournament being played at Vaal de Grace Golf Estate.
His round included seven birdies and just a single bogey, and he was pleased to be in contention – but he was even more pleased that the hard work he had been doing on his game was starting to pay dividends.
“I’ve been practicing really hard at recapturing the kind of swing I had when I was younger, and my brother Alain is helping me with that,” he said. “I also spend a lot of time with John Dickson at The Els Club Copperleaf, and that’s a big help.”
Norris is currently 85th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, but a big finish to his year could get him back to the kind of level which won him two big titles.