Who will be first off the mark?

9th January 2019 | Sunshine Tour

Who will be first off the mark?

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Who will be first off the mark?

It is a universal norm that with the new year, new goals, new targets and resolutions are made, and a strong early start tends to form a foundation for an even stronger finish to the year.

England’s Chris Paisley claimed the first title of 2018 when he clinched the then BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni – a title which is now known as the South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Joburg and for the first time in its 100-year history, tri-sanctioned with the European Tour and Asian Tour.

He would go on to make play 14 tournaments on the European Tour which included top-five finishes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic which he achieved in the same month as his South African victory. He bookended his solid year with a top-10 finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, a share of 24th at SA Open and a share of 18th at Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Also taking advantage of his solid early start to the year that was, was Neil Schietekat. The three-time Sunshine Tour winner came in at 15th at SA Open in January last year and despite missing two cuts in three events in February, he bounced back with a top 10 finish at the season-ending Tour Championship in March. A few other good results followed but the prime moment was his Sun City Challenge victory which ended his winless run of four years. Three months later, he graced the winner’s circle again after clinching the Vodacom Origins of Golf title at Arabella.

His biggest cheque, however, came from the final event of the year, the Alfred Dunhill Championship. There, he came in in a share of 12th to finish what was a hugely successful year. Other players who were able to keep the momentum of their strong starts to the year include Justin Harding who claimed four professional victories last year – two on the Sunshine Tour and two on the Asian Tour.

Rhys Enoch won the Cape Town Open presented by Sun International, Matias Calderon claimed the Eye of Africa PGA Championship, Jaco Ahlers won the Dimension Data Pro-Am, Bryce Easton won the season-opening Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open, JJ Senekal and Rourke van der Spuy both won in Zambia very early in the year.

Easton missed the cut at Leopard Creek but his SA Open third-place finish was his best Sunshine Tour result since that victory in Harare as he now finds himself fourth on the Order of Merit.

Not everybody may win a title in the same year but it is clear that a solid start at the early stages of the year is important and can be a basis for a strong season.

Who will be first off the mark in 2019?

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