17th February 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Van Zyl – I was going to take a golf sabbatical
Jaco van Zyl was a week away from taking a step back from the game. And then he found himself in a share of the lead going into the final round of the Dimension Data Po-Am
Van Zyl carded a third-round three-under-par 69 on Montagu to share the 54-hole lead at 17-under with Swede Philip Eriksson, and is about to tee-off in search of his first Sunshine Tour title since his February 2016 victory in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship. Should he win, it would be his 15th title in a glittering career.
“It’s amazing to be in this position after the injury issues,” he said after not playing for the whole of the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour season. “But it’s not just the injuries. I’ve been back since August last year. I got off to a nice start, with a bit of a run in Europe at the end of last year. But from the beginning of this year, it’s really been a struggle.
“Although I’m injury-free, emotionally I started taking strain and doubting myself, whether I had enough to play this game anymore. A week ago, I was going to take a golf sabbatical. It really got to me. But I knuckled down last week, really worked hard. So this performance is just great for the confidence. It’s given me a little bit of courage and it’s really nice to be in this position.
“When you’re in a state like that, you’ve basically got two choices. You can either lie down – and most people will understand and accept that – or you can get up and try and face the challenge. If you think about it long enough and hard enough, you realise that you’ve been doing it long enough and that the game’s still there. Maybe the best way to get through a slump is to put your head down and work harder than you’ve ever worked before. With time, it should come right.”
It seems to have come right with a vengeance at Fancourt this week. He opened with a seven-under 65 on Outeniqua with eight birdies on his card, followed it with a bogey-free seven-under 66 on The Links and then came his battling three-under 69 on Montagu.
He knows better than to expect miracles in the final round. “With my experience, I know if things go well that I can play nicely,” he said. “The thing with winning tournaments is you’ve got to put four rounds together. There’s no good to be gained putting three rounds together and then falling out the bus in one. I hope the third round was my little bit of a slump and I can pick up a few in the final round.”
If he picks up those few, he’ll be a happy man. “I didn’t expect to be in this position this week, but it really is good to be here,” he said.