While he’s quite aware that his victory in last October’s BMG Classic at Glendower Golf Club is no guarantee of success in the 104th South African Open Championship on the same course later this week, Merrick Bremner will take a great deal of confidence from it.
He holed his third from a greenside bunker on 18 in October to snatch a one-stroke victory from Darren Fichardt, but he knows that winning the second-oldest national open championship in golf will be a different kettle of fish.
“It’s always nice to have a strong performance at the same venue leading up to a big tournament,” said Bremner, “but the course is definitely toughened up a bit since we were here at the BMG Classic.
“It was just coming out of winter and the grass hadn’t really knitted and become that tough, Now, the rough is quite thick. They’ve also narrowed a few fairways – but it’s still the same course. You have to hit the ball well. The key is to drive the ball well, and if you’re in the rough, take your punishment and see what you can do if you have to knock it out sideways.”
Bremner is one of three players who have won the BMG Classic at Glendower in the SA Open field: The others are 2013 champion Ulrich van den Berg and 2011 winner James Kamte.
Van den Berg’s victory was the most comprehensive of the three. Kamte beat Dawie van der Walt – who set a course-record 62 during the tournament – in a play-off, while Van den Berg’s five-stroke margin over Titch Moore and Hennie Otto was considerably better than Bremner’s one-shot edge.
While all those players will take positives into the SA Open, they will all know that doing well in the BMG Classic does not necessarily translate into success in the bigger tournament. “It’s not going to be a massive key that playing the BMG Classic makes you one up on half the field,” said Bremner.
“The golf course is the same, but the conditions are different,” he added. “The way it is at the moment, Glendower is probably one of the best in the country. It’s a really strong layout and it’s a great test.”
And while he’s not presumptuous enough to believe his October victory makes him a favourite for the SA Open, he’s happy with the way he sees his chances. “I didn’t come here to play for second place,” he said. “If I play well and hit the form I had here during the BMG Classic, then I’ll be there or thereabouts.”