While Keith Horne is not on the Jean Hugo level of wins on the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, he would be more than happy to grab his fifth victory in the series when he tees off in the tournament which gets underway at Arabella Golf and Country Estate on Thursday.
Horne won twice on the series in 2004, and one of those wins came at Arabella, so he has the game to deal with what can get thrown at the players by the elements on the Western Cape Coast at this time of year.
Last time the Vodacom Origins of Golf series was at Arabella in 2014, the tournament was shortened from its usual 54 holes to 56 because the wind was too strong for any kind of golf to be played. But Horne coped with it better than most, finishing in a share of eighth behind the man who is the most successful player on the series with 11 victories, Jean Hugo.
Horne opened with a 69 on that occasion, and he hung in with a second-round 74 to finish six shots behind Hugo. And he showed his ability to cope with difficulties back then, as his three-wood broke before the first round. ‘I hit driver off the deck,’ said Horne of that problem. ‘I didn’t play with a three-wood for four years before that, so I know how to choke down and chip a driver, and that’s all I did when I needed a three-wood.’
Horne managed to score fairly well in that opening 69, and, after turning in two-over 38, he pulled things back nicely, and made five birdies in a row from 13 to 17, and just missed a five-footer on 18 to make it six in a row.
‘It’s quite narrow out there,’ said Horne of Arabella. ‘It’s not an easy golf course. There are not too many jammy holes where you’re just knocking in a sand wedge or a lob wedge. There are a lot of medium irons, there are challenging par-threes – it’s a good golf course!’
Horne has put himself in a good position on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, sitting in 15th thanks to a share of fourth in the BMW South African Open Championship and of 18th in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
Arabella is the place for the man the local caddies call ‘ATM’ – for his ability to frequently finish in the money – to repeat the consistency in ‘winter’ events he has shown over the years.