Veteran Sunshine Tour campaigner Oliver Bekker did exactly what he intended to do while his Mediclinic Invitational first round co-leader Willie Olivier did what he hopes can lead to the kind of career his more experienced compatriot has had.
The duo opened with rounds of seven-under-par 65 at the Maccauvlei Golf Club to lead by one shot over the group of Quintin Wilsnach, Ryan van Velzen, Matthew Spacey, Makhetha Mazibuko and Jovan Rebula.
Bekker’s name at the top of the leaderboard in the Sunshine Tour’s first tournament of 2024 is certainly to be expected from a man with eight wins on the Tour, a European Challenge Tour title, and a narrow playoff defeat in a DP World Tour event on his CV.
That’s something Olivier is certainly working towards, and his 65 was a big step in the right direction for a 25-year-old professional looking to make his mark on the Sunshine Tour.
“This was a very satisfying start to the year for me, with a good round like this,” said Olivier.
“I’m currently on the bubble in terms of keeping my card for this season with only a few tournaments left for me, so this is a good sign of what is to come. I’m very happy playing the golf I know I can play.
“I was a bit shaky off the tee at the start of the round and managed my wayward shots to save par. My putter was working though and a lot of birdie putts went in. My irons were also good and I was hitting them close enough, and then rolling them in with the putter always helps.
“There were some snippets of good golf last year and I’m glad everything is coming together now. It’s exciting for the rest of the tournament and the rest of the season.”
Having played on Altron Big Easy Tour, the Sunshine Tour represents a definite step up for Olivier and he’s taking in everything he can to grow his game.
“I didn’t have much off time over the festive season because I knew I had to perform in the new year to keep my card. So I only took about two weeks off and started grinding again. I had one simple thing I needed to work on in my swing to get greater consistency and that’s improved.
“The Sunshine Tour is another level. On the Altron Big Easy Tour there are smaller fields, but on the Sunshine Tour everyone is next level.
“Everyone’s here for a reason, though. We can all play golf and it’s about making your bad shots average and your good shots exceptional. It’s about getting more consistent in your golf.
“Your bad rounds need to be less damaging and your good rounds need to be very good to compete with the best in South Africa.”
Photo: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour