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Golf | SA

Fichardt looks to up the ante



A final-round 73 saw him just out of the top five in the South African Open, but Darren Fichardt will be looking to finish right on top in the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open this week.

Fichardt, the 37-year-old who plays out of Centurion Country Club, is ranked 158th in the Official World Golf Rankings, the highest ranked player in the R2-million event at Royal Cape Golf Club which gets underway on Thursday.

Lion of Africa Insurance Company, South Africa’s only Level 1 B-BBEE short-term insurer, is the title sponsor of the four-round tournament, which will feature a full field of 156 of the Sunshine Tour’s leading professionals. The winner’s share of the prize find is an impressive R317 000.

Fichardt has won 12 tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, and, since 2009, he has won at least one title a year in South Africa – including a golden 2009 when he took three titles.

While he won the Saint-Omer Open in France on the European Tour, he has yet to win a tournament on the Sunshine Tour, and the return of professional golf to Cape Town after a 10-year hiatus seems an ideal opportunity for him to do so.

He will not have things all his own way: After disposing of the offending putter during his third round, 2011 SA Open champion Hennie Otto got his game together in a big way in the closing round with a brilliant course-record 10-under-par 62 –a score which has only ever been achieved once before in the SA Open when John Bland carded the same score in 1999.

And if that’s the Otto who tees it up for the tournament, then a duel with Fichardt is a distinct and an exciting possibility.

Jaco van Zyl is another who has won multiple times on the Sunshine Tour: He has 10 titles to his credit, with four of those coming in 2010, and his last one in September 2011.

They are not the only players who catch the eye: Bryce Easton is a two-time winner on the Sunshine Tour this year, with victories two weeks apart in May and June.

Jake Roos has also won twice, in March and in June, and there were victories as well for Keith Horne, Chris Swanepoel, Christiaan Basson, Zimbabwes’s Ryan Cairns, Justin Harding, Allan Versfeld, Teboho Sefatsa, Ruan de Smidt and Doug McGuigan.

With 13 Sunshine Tour titles in 2012 amongst 11 players, there is will be no shortage of challengers to Otto, Van Zyl and Fichardt.

The action will get underway at 6.30am on Thursday after Mayor Patricia De Lille has hit the ceremonial first tee shot. Tickets, for just a R10 donation to charity per day, will be available at the Royal Cape gates. Pensioners and children under 16 will be admitted free.

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