The last South African to win the Cape Town Open, Jacques Kruyswijk, is determined to ensure the country’s start to the Challenge Tour continues in the Mother City, writes WADE PRETORIUS at Royal Cape Golf Club.
Kruyswijk won here back in 2016 and was a front-runner at the Limpopo Championship last week before settling for a top-five finish; only two foreign players finished inside the top 10. Since his win, he played his way on to the European Tour but now finds himself in a rebuilding phase. The lucrative Challenge Tour stop, then, represents the perfect platform.
Returning to Cape Town, he has some of that swagger back in his step which should sound alarm bells for the visiting contingent of foreign pros even if he has to factor in a larger field and an event split between Royal Cape and King David Mowbray.
Being a previous winner here, will help, though.
‘I feel good, the game feels in a really good space. It does bring back a lot of memories walking around here. My first big win came here, so that’s always going to be in my mind whenever I come back. I’m excited to tee it up tomorrow,’ he says.
‘I had a look at the course earlier today and it’s in unbelievable condition. Probably the best I’ve seen it in. I played Mowbray for the first time yesterday. It’s a great course, too. Probably the scoring golf course for the one round that we’ll play there. It’s going to be a big week.’
‘Focus’ is a word that crops up a few times in discussions with the 27-year-old. Be it, his ambition to play at the highest level or in his determination to secure victory.
Playing two courses over the first two days, will not shift the mindset all that much.
‘The focus remains on the tournament. It doesn’t matter if we play one or two courses. Bringing the Challenge Tour here … it does make it even harder to win because there’s more players, more talent to try and beat. It’s a big, strong field when you look at it. It won’t be easy to win but most weeks aren’t.
‘For me, the two courses does bring some strategy into play. Two courses, two game plans.’
As for the chance of his fellow local pros letting up their hold on the Challenge Tour following on from last week?
‘Whenever, wherever you play representing our flag, you want to win. If there’s a tournament with international flavour, you want to keep the trophy on home soil. I think all the South Africans out here will not want to see the trophy headed for the airport.’
He may have to keep an eye on the foreign threat, the defending champion is Benjamin Follett-Smith from Zimbabwe while Welshman Rhys Enoch prevailed two years ago at King David Mowbray. Part of the focus is keeping his head down and not being particularly bothered by the things he cannot control.
‘I’m not here to take part. I’m here to win. That’s been my goal the whole year and I’m going to carry on with that.
‘There’s a slight advantage [to having played on the European Tour] … my own game has grown a lot over the last few years. Gaining that experience playing on that circuit against the best in the world can only help when you come back home and head out for a competition. So, yeah, that time does count in my favour. My priority for the year is all about getting back to that level and then kicking on to try tick off the next goal.’
In good form and in a good space off the course, Kruyswijk is looking as likely as anyone to ensure a local winner come Sunday.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images