Fisher Jnr poised for Africa Open breakthrough
Seven-time Sunshine Tour winner Trevor Fisher Jnr believes the next few weeks could change his life. Fresh off a tie for sixth at the Joburg Open on Sunday, the smooth-swinging Johannesburg golfer arrived in Buffalo City on Monday as one of the firm favourites to lift the title at €1-million Africa Open in Buffalo City this week.
“I’ve been knocking for a long while now, but I finally believe that I can win a European Tour title,” Fisher Jnr said on the eve of the country’s fifth European and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event.
“With the Africa Open this week and the new Tshwane Open at the end of the month, this is a great time to be a Sunshine Tour golfer looking to break onto the European Tour stage. Hopefully I can keep my form going and get my name engraved on one of the two trophies.”
Fisher Jnr is eager for the challenge at East London Golf Club to begin.
“I shared the lead for two rounds at the Joburg Open, then lost my swing in the third round but still hung on to a share of the lead,” he said. “I wasn’t hitting it all that well on Sunday, but I kept myself in contention. It’s a big thing to realise that, even when your game isn’t at the top level, you still have the goods to compete at the top level.
“The experience has really given me a sense of purpose; I’m hungry to win. Victory here on Sunday, or victory at the Tshwane Open at the end of February; that is my top priority now.”
The 32-year-old Johannesburg pro has reason to believe he can go the distance this year.
In the last 13 months, Fisher Jnr won three times on the Sunshine Tour and posted eight top 10 finishes that saw him close out the 2012 season ranked fourth. Bolstered by a superb Joburg Open campaign, Fisher Jnr is riding a wave confidence at a course where he feels right at home, backed up by the kind of form that could carry him to a podium finish on Sunday.
“Three years ago, I shot rounds of 66-66-71-72 and tied for fourth,” he said. “I finished three shots off the pace from Charl Schwartzel and played some of my best golf here that season.
“I’m back with more experience, more consistency, more patience and the confidence to know I can get the job done. I was out there on Monday and today, ironing out any niggles and just getting a feeling for the week ahead. I was reminded again what a great track this is. It suits my eye and my game and I just feel good out there, so hopefully another good week is waiting.”
Fisher Jnr, Thomas Aiken, Keith Horne, Jaco van Zyl and Jbe Kruger will lead the local challenge against a strong international line-up that includes Ricardo Santos of Portugal, England’s Robert Rock and Tommy Fleetwood and Gregory Bourdy of France.
The absence of two-time champion Louis Oosthuizen, Schwartzel, Branden Grace, George Coetzee and recently crowned Joburg Open champion Richard Sterne has left the door open for one lucky golfer to claim a coveted one-year European Tour and five year Sunshine Tour exemption.
“The way I see it, Thomas, Keith, Jaco and even Jbe Kruger have earned their stripes and are already competing on the European Tour, but I’m still looking to join that club, so I guess I’m the dark horse this week,” Fisher Jnr said.
“I’m not taking anything for granted, though, because I think it’s going to be a tough week. There is so much to play for. South Africa has won this tournament since it launched in 2008 and there are a lot of young South Africans hoping to break into the big time.
“The international players would like to break that tradition and there are some guys coming into this week in red-hot form, like Ricardo Santos, who tied for third and Tommy Fleetwood, who tied for 14th.
“So no-one can afford to get complacent. It’s going to be a tough week, no doubt.”
Tickets to this year’s Africa Open are available at the gate. Entry is free for children under 18 on Thursday and Friday and R5 for Saturday and Sunday. Adults also enter for free on Thursday and Friday and tickets cost R25 per day on the weekend.