Zander Lombard carded a level-par 72 on Thursday in the opening round of the R700,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen Golf and Country Club, but he had his thoughts on a couple of tournaments in Europe.
After his second-place finish in February’s Joburg Open, he’s been able to play frequently on the European Tour. But, other than his share of seventh in the Tshwane Open, he’s managed just one top-10, when he finished in fifth in the Lyoness Open in June.
Nonetheless, he finds himself in 90th position on The European Tour’s Race to Dubai, and, with the top 110 players earning playing privileges for 2017, it seems likely he will be one of them. But it could be a close-run thing.
“I’m going to head back to Europe in October,” he said, “and try and climb a little higher in the rankings. But if I don’t, my main goal for the year was to get my European Tour card. I’d like to think I’ve got enough on the board if I don’t make another cut in the next couple of months, but you never know.”
It seems almost inconceivable that he might not make the cuts he needs, but a look at his last tournament in Europe, the Made in Denmark event, gives a clue as to what might cut the legs from underneath his challenge: He opened with a 69 in that tournament, and followed it with an 80 to go crashing out.
“I’m not really worried about it,” he said. “I played a long stretch of tournaments, and some swing faults crept in. When you’re under pressure, that catches up to you. So it’s good to be back home for four or five weeks and just get back to my routines.
“I’d like to think I’m moving in the right direction again. My basics are very good and I’m feeling confident on the course. I might have shot level-par today, but I played much better. This course is so punishing if you’re not perfect, but there was a big improvement in my consistency and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
If he gets it tight, he can climb even higher into the upper echelons of the Race to Dubai and play his way into the Final Series, which would include a spot in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
“That’s a tournament that I’ve watched for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to play it, and it’s going to be better than ever this year. So that’s a big incentive.”