Teaghan Gauche qualified for his sixth start on the Sunshine Tour after finishing tied first in the Investec Royal Swazi Open Qualifier, which was played at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club.
The event which takes place from May fourth to seventh is unique as it is played using a modified stableford system where players are awarded and deducted points depending on their score relative to par on each hole. Gauche and Le Roux Ferreira both came home with 14 points to win the day’s proceedings.
‘I think the round was good. I played pretty solid. There were a lot of shots left out there, but obviously with that system you tend to be more aggressive and the course sets up for that. It’s a course where if you hit good shots you can leave yourself a lot of good opportunities. Obviously eagles being not only two shots gained on the field, you know its five points, so it plays a little differently. It’s interesting. I didn’t really think of the points system too much to be honest but obviously it plays out in your favour if you can make a few eagles,’ Gauche said,
While working on his game at the range, Gauche jokingly remarked about playing the course with his grandfather some years back. ‘I played it when I was probably about 11 years old with my grandfather. The only thing I remember was making birdie at the 10th hole. I didn’t birdie the 10th today , I knocked it to about three foot and missed, but I made birdie on 11 so it’s okay.’ He explained.
The format sees players earn five points for an eagle, two points for a birdie and zero points for a par, while one point will be deducted for a bogey and two points deducted for a double-bogey or worse.
In a one-of-a-kind event, players are rewarded for aggressive play and Gauche believes the format brings something new and exciting to the week. ‘I’m excited. It’s a different event. The reason the format is like that is to almost force guys to play differently, think differently, be more aggressive. It adds another element to the game, but at the end of the day you’ve got to play good golf to be in there and there are a lot of opportunities for eagles and albatrosses and all of that, so yeah,’ he said.
Preparation for the unique format can be crucial come the Saturday finish, and assessing the on-course opportunities started yesterday for Gauche in his practice round. ‘I’d say yesterday’s work was a little different. You go out there and you need to be thinking about playing the holes and seeing where the opportunities lie. Obviously you first need to assess them and seeing how you’re best going to capitalize. I think first and foremost you need to recognize where the opportunities are out there. That comes from your preparation in the practice round,’ he explained.
In his rookie season on tour, Gauche already has loft goals. ‘I think for any event, the goal is to win. If I didn’t think I could win I wouldn’t be here. That’s not the immediate goal. The immediate goal is to make sure I stick to my game plan. You know, keep doing the right work on the range and keeping things consistent to allow me to hit the ball consistently throughout the week and staying in the right mindset. That should take care of the rest. But the big goal is definitely to win,’ he said.
The uniqueness of the tournament doesn’t stop with the format, as play is due to get underway tomorrow and, weather permitting, we will see a champion crowned on Saturday at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club. PH McIntyre will no doubt be trying his best to see his name on the cup once more after last year’s success.