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Golf | SA

Branden Grace © Gallo Images

Flying Fish riding the wave



The shadow cast by Branden Grace in terms of breakthrough years was a large one in 2012. Few in the history of sport have enjoyed such a meteoric rise in their discipline, and the long list of records which he toppled is indicative of a man who is likely to enjoy a special career.

But there was one man on South African shores who made waves of his own, and matched Grace’s tally of three wins in the Republic – Trevor Fisher Jnr. The 33-year-old hasn’t had it all his own way since turning pro in 2002, but victories at the Wild Waves Challenge, Vodacom Origins of Golf in Sishen and the Nedbank Affinity Cup helped him pocket more than R1.5 million and a fourth-place finish in the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in 2012.

On Tuesday evening at the annual Sunshine Tour Awards evening, Fisher was duly rewarded for his remarkable achievements as he picked up the Players’ Player of the Year and the Writers’ Player of the Year (awarded to the most significant newsmaker of the year of players who entered 10 events or more). Such recognition was no more than the likeable Fisher deserved, but the Edenvale resident was simply humbled by the honours that were bestowed upon him.

“I can’t tell you what it’s done for my confidence and self-esteem to receive these awards. It’s such an honour to receive such respect from your peers, and it makes me feel great to be in this position. I just hope I can kick on this year and try keep up the momentum from 2012,” Fisher told supersport.com.

The Awards evening took place just two days before the seventh edition of the Joburg Open, and a top-three finish at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club last year was a major catalyst for Fisher’s success in 2012.

Yet the good times continued to roll for the seven-time Sunshine Tour winner, as he kicked off his tournament with a mightily impressive six-under round of 66 at the East Course on Thursday. Three consecutive birdies got things moving in the right direction, and bogeys at the seventh and 10th holes were offset by five other birdies to leave him in the top-10 after day one.

“It was crazy, I felt so nervous on the first tee today,” he said after his round. “After the massive respect shown to me by my peers the other night, I felt an immense amount of pressure standing there.”

“Luckily I got off to a good start, and I hit the ball really nicely today. I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I wasn’t in trouble very much, and I was able to take most of my chances when I had them,” Fisher added.

With 54 holes still to play, predicting a winner would be foolhardy, and conditions on day one were conducive to some electrifying scoring. As a result, Fisher’s round doesn’t necessarily stand out on what is a crowded leaderboard. However, he can take comfort from the fact that he will be teeing it up at the slightly easier West course tomorrow, and a similar display of ball striking could see him in contention for a maiden victory in a co-sanctioned event.

“We’ll have to see. I’m really pleased with how I started off, but it’s early days and I’m not going to put any extra pressure on myself,” Fisher said.

Whether the dream of success is realised this week or not, it seems as though a big win for the ever-improving Fisher is not far away. After all, the man he edged out to the Players’ Player of the Year award was Grace. If that’s not a sign of how far he has come, then what is?

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