Last year the inaugural Lion of Africa Cape Town Open ended with a sudden-death playoff between Jake Roos, Jaco van Zyl, Tyrone van Aswegen and Mark Williams. Of the four players one is now a PGA Tour member, one is a five-time playoff winner, one has 13 Sunshine Tour wins, and one is a product of the Big Easy Tour Championship.
This year the tournament boasts five European Tour winners, five Asian Tour winners, and 51 Sunshine Tour winners. Headlining the field is 2011 South African Open Championship winner Hennie Otto, who tied for second at the BMG Classic a fortnight ago.
Otto returned from the European Tour after a successful month in which he finished tied eighth in the Italian Open, tied 12th in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and then tied sixth in the Portugal Masters.
The tournament also welcomes Justin Walters, who heads to Cape Town after a solid maiden season on the European Tour. The 33-year-old finished second at the Portugal Masters earlier this month and currently ranks 69th in the Race to Dubai. In his last three tournaments Walters has shot 67 or better on Sunday and presents a real threat this week.
Gentleman James Kingston and Tshwane Open winner Dawie van der Walt both turn to Cape Town in a bid to end their season on a high note. Jbe Kruger, James Kamte and Anton Haig, on the other hand, are on the comeback trail this year and Royal Cape is the perfect venue to spark a summer turnaround.
Last year Jake Roos took the fifth playoff win of his career when he slotted a 15-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole. Regulation play ended with four players tied on nine-under-par, but Roos’ nerve held through to victory.
“It’s great to be back as defending champion, but I don’t expect as much of myself as some other people do. I try to avoid that type of pressure,” he said on Wednesday.
The 2012 Big Easy Tour Championship winner, Mark Williams, was one of the playoff contenders and returns to Royal Cape with an eye for victory. Newly crowned Big Easy Champion Divan Gerber will look to follow in those footsteps.
“That’s what’s nice about the Big Easy Tour,” said Gerber. “It gives you the opportunity to learn and to then take that onto the main tour and make a living.”
The Lion of Africa Cape Town Open begins on Thursday.