Richard Sterne arrived at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate this week for the South African Open Championship safe in the knowledge that heÂs retained his card for the European Tour next year.
But despite amassing in excess of Â560,000 this year to lie 46th in the Race to Dubai, the former SA Open champion has not been fully satisfied with his efforts.
ÂI had some good performances this year. IÂve still got a lot of things to work on and I had a good run in May and June which helped a lot. I just need to get some confidence back and hopefully IÂll get back to winning ways again. I havenÂt competed on a Sunday in a while, which I miss.
ÂIt was one of the goals for the year to get into the Dubai event, and I got that wrapped up quite early on in the year. ItÂs just been a disappointing last few months Â no real fantastic results,Â Sterne said.
The 31 year-old has been plagued by a back injury in the years following his triumph at Pearl Valley Golf Estate in 2008, and has been unable to add to his tally of wins. However, Sterne believes he has overcome this now, and is looking to an enjoyable run of tournaments in South Africa to launch his charge for the next year.
ÂThe back has been very good actually. IÂm quite pleased with that, thatÂs positive. It hasnÂt given me any hassles to have to pull out of any tournaments, which is what IÂve been looking for.
ÂWeÂre coming into a nice run of tournaments now, and playing six events in South Africa is fantastic. I think itÂs the strongest the Tour has ever been. Hopefully I can win one or two of these again and get off to a good start for next year. ThatÂs the focus now,Â he said.
Although this week will be the first time that Sterne has seen the golf course, he arrives with the advantage of having tasted victory in his national open before. Sterne will be joined by a number of other European Tour winners in the field this week including Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Henrik Stenson. However, the 2008 champion is hoping past success will stand him in good stead to reclaim the trophy he won four years ago.
ÂIt helps to have won the event and to have a fairly decent record here in South Africa. IÂm hoping it brings back some confidence and some good feelings again,Â he said.