13th February 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Ahlers hoping omens point to Dimension Data defence
Last year ahead of the Dimension Data Pro-Am, Jaco Ahlers managed to lose out in Kingswood Golf Estate’s weekly meat competition. This year, he’s managed to repeat the feat, so he’s taking that as a good omen ahead of his title defence at Fancourt.
The R5.05-million tournament tees off on The Links at Fancourt, Outeniqua and Montagu on Thursday, with professionals playing a round on each of the three courses ahead of the cut and the final round on Montagu. The pros will play for R4.75-million, and the pro-am section of the tournament carries a further R300,000 in prize money.
Last year, Ahlers, who lives in George, won by three shots from Jean-Paul Strydom, and also took the pro-am title with his partner, cricketing superstar Jacques Kallis.
“Last year, Vaughn Groenewald pipped me at the meat comp,” laughed Ahlers, “and I’m not featuring at all this week at Kingswood, so maybe I should take that as a sign.”
It’s an event that Ahlers loved winning last year, and he will throw everything into trying to defend his title. “It’s always good to be able to play in front of friends and family,” he said of his victory which was greeted with much local pleasure.”
Of course, being local gives him a little bit of an advantage in a tournament that is played over three different courses. “I’m very comfortable at Fancourt,” he said. “I play the courses a lot, and I’ve got to know them really well. There have been changes at Montagu, and I’m already comfortable with those, whereas players from outside of George might battle to adapt to them quickly.”
Added to that familiarity, Ahlers’ own game has been trending in the right direction, with a share of eighth in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship at the end of January, and a share of fifth in the RAM Cape Town Open last week. “I’ve made a few changes in the ‘team’ department,” said Ahlers. “I’ve been working with Peter Berman, who also looks after Branden Grace. I’ve made significant changes, and it’s been getting there over the last four weeks.”
For his win last year, Ahlers finished with an emphatic eight-under 64 to pull clear. It was the best score of the final round, and perhaps indicative of how he can play when things start rolling for him.
Now, there’s just that pesky meat comp! Maybe next year…