WGC performance big boost for Otto

When Hennie Otto looks back on his $68,500.00 payday from last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, he’ll remember his victory in the 2011 Dimension Data Pro-Am with added fondness.

Any win is a good one for a professional golfer, especially when a player pulls off one of the big summer events on his home Tour, so Otto was pleased with his 10th victory on the Sunshine Tour – as much for the victory itself as for the prize money.

And, for Otto, more than the R475,500 first prize, the exemption into the $8.5-million WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was something to be prized.

“It means a lot for players like me who are on the European Tour too,” said Otto after his win at Fancourt. “Because it counts for the Race to Dubai, it’s quite important. I have been there four or five times before, and I’m looking forward to going over again this year. I hope I can have a good one this year.”

Well, it was good enough for more than R489,000 in return for his share of 29th. He finished one-under-par for the tournament after flirting with a top-10 finish with his fine second-round 66. He opened and closed with a pair of 69s, and it was only the third-round 75 which damaged his chances of a higher finish.

So his victory at Fancourt gave him a chance to play amongst the best players in the world – he was paired with Tiger Woods in the final round, during which he went one better than Woods’ level-par 70.

But it also allowed him to double his money from Fancourt – and that’s something that South African players who get into WGC events through the various channels which exist for them through performances on the Sunshine Tour will be very aware of.

And Keith Horne and Jbe’ Kruger will be the next players who will get a chance to convert Sunshine Tour success into international results – and maybe even a fist full of dollars.

They will both play in the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai from November 3-6: They will be in the field by virtue of their positions on the 2010 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.

Other South Africans in that event will be Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Thomas Aiken and Rory Sabbatini.

And if a South African other than those players wins this week’s PGA Championship, he’ll get in too.

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