With defending champion Keith Horne not playing this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf event presented by Samsung at St Francis Links, two veteran players have the chance to pull off a victory close to their home towns.
Port Elizabeth-based Titch Moore (right) plays out of St Francis Links, and he was somewhat taken aback last year when Horne trumped his opening five-under-par 67 with a superlative 65 in benign conditions on a course which draws much of its defence from the coastal winds.
“I’ve played here plenty before, and I’ve never had a day like this,” he said at the time. “There’s not even a breeze out here. A day like today is going to be a day of scoring.”
Jeffrey’s Bay is just down the road from St Francis Bay, and local Wallie Coetsee plays out of nearby Zwartenbosch Links. He’s good friends with Moore and the pair often play together when they are not competing in Sunshine Tour tournaments.
Coetsee is experiencing his finest year on the Sunshine Tour, with his second-place finish in the Joburg Open helping him ride high in ninth spot on the Order of Merit.
Moore has five finishes inside the top 10 on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in his lengthy career, but it has been a quiet year for him after his comeback victory in last year’s Telkom Business PGA Championship. He has just one top-10 finish this year, and, frustratingly for him, four missed cuts in his last six starts.
The complexities of playing his home course will concentrate his mind, and with tough weather forecast for the opening day of the tournament on Thursday – easing through the 54 holes of the R650,000 event – he could be the one to take advantage of being at home.
Moore and Coetsee will find themselves up against someone who knows how to win the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournaments: Jean Hugo has won the last two, taking his career tally of victories to 11, and he often emerges victorious when the weather makes the going tough.