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Golf | SA

Royal Cape memories motivate Maritz



Martin Maritz has never won on the Sunshine Tour and, ahead of the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open this week, he reflected on his performance the last time a professional golf tournament was played at Royal Cape Golf Club.

“I think that’s the closest I came to winning,” he said of the 2001 Vodacom Players Championship, where he lost out to Ernie Els by a single stroke.

Maritz’s Sunshine Tour career has 19 top-10 finishes in it, the most recent being his 10th place in last year’s BMG Classic.

But 2001 was a golden year for him with four top-10s, including that second place – and he followed it up with some superb performances for the rest of the summer including a share of ninth in the SA Open won by Tim Clark and a share of second in the Dunhill Championship behind Justin Rose.

In the event at Royal Cape, where the R2-million Lion of Africa Cape Town Open is being played this week from Thursday, he was one of a group of four behind the Big Easy: Alan McLean was another and the other two were Trevor Immelman and Retief Goosen, who, like Els, have won major championships. Goosen, in fact, was fresh off his first US Open title earlier in 2001.

“I was a group behind Ernie,” remembered Maritz. “I think he bogeyed 17, so at the time, I was tied for the lead. I decided to hit an iron off the tee to try and keep it in the fairway, and I pulled it left into the trees and made a bogey on 17 myself.

“If I could have that tee shot over, I’d probably hit a driver,” he laughed.

“It’s fantastic to be back at Royal Cape,” he said after playing in the pro-am. “I was remembering shots I hit 10 years ago in that tournament, and it brought back some good memories.

“I also lost against Bradford Vaughan in the semifinals of the South African Amateur here as well,” he added.

Vaughan, who held a one-stroke lead over Els after 15 holes at Royal Cape in 2001, went on to finish double bogey-bogey-par to slip to sixth in that tournament. “I still had hair I could flick out of my eyes then,” laughed Vaughan, an eight-time winner on the Sunshine Tour.

“I hope I can remember some of those good shots this week,” said Maritz of the looming Lion of Africa Cape Town Open. “I’ve never seen the course in such good shape. The greens are fantastic, the fairways are pure… it will be a great week this week!”

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