BMW SA Open & Twitter madness!

Tour Diary

So 2016 is up and running and that three week break at home sure went quick!

For me, over the past 9 seasons my golf finished around the mid November time at Q-School and then, bar a couple of events, it normally didn’t get started until the end of April!

That usually meant 4/5 months’ of quality time with the family and a great time to develop my game!

This year it’s been very different and for all the right reasons!

The three weeks have been great, though! The clubs were left in the flight bag for a week and untouched, which meant some quality time with the girls!

Jessica and Olivia are growing up so fast and now Olivia is running round everywhere, trying to attack her older sister – it’s quite a mad house!  I couldn’t really take any more time off than a week though, and with the Christmas period taking out a few days too, I headed over to Oulton Hall to see my coach Mark Pearson.

We had a great catch up – I’d not actually seen him since gaining my card at Tour School, so a big man hug was in order!

A lot of people have believed in me for a long time, and Mark’s certainly kept me very motivated and kept me believing when times have been tough!

So three sessions with Mark, and two with Rachael Tibbs (my fitness coach) to burn off the Christmas chocolate, I felt ready to get to South Africa for two weeks’ work on the European Tour!   Well, that was the plan…but there was a slight worry when, at close of entries, I was 14th reserve for the SA Open but exempt for the Joburg Open the week after (larger field).

I was entered into the qualifier if I did not fall down the reserve list in time, but thankfully I did! The Friday before, I got the email I wanted saying I was now in the field!

So getting on that plane knowing I had got my spot made the 15 hour journey a whole lot more fun!

Arriving at the course Monday morning in the chauffeur driven BMWs is always a nice touch; so after signing in, a quick shower and some lunch, I was ready to start my working day!

I had three great days’ preparation, the main focus being on trying to adjust to the altitude; with the course 1600 metres above sea level, that is at least a 10% increase in how the ball flies through the air!

   Round one I played ok, putted pretty nice and scrambled it round for +2!

It wasn’t so much the altitude that caught me out, but the combination with the wind that did!

I used a metres book instead of a yardage book, so it’s all pretty much converted for you (10%) but down the 16th I had 125 metres to the flag – with the help of the wind and my misjudgement, I flew it 130 metres and over the green (bogey 6); that was a wake-up call, but it’s hard to get your head round actually hitting a gap wedge 143 yards when you normally max out at 120 with that club!

So back for round two and in the back of my head I felt I had to break par to make the weekend!

6, 6 start! Double bogey, bogey was not what I had planned!

But I stayed upbeat; my caddy Waleed was fantastic and he too is so positive, and with his help I bounced back with two birdies!

The forecast for the afternoon was grim, and on the 6th tee the clouds, thunder, rain and lightning came in…

It was a strong par 3 over water and I would have loved them to call off play prior to hitting the shot, as maybe the wind would have dropped off when play resumed!

But I had to hit the shot anyway, and it ended up being the shot of the day! I hit a 6 iron to a foot before the klaxon went and we were back in the clubhouse just in the nick of time!  Going back to my caddy – I’ve been so lucky this week… Steve Tooby, who many of you know, had already booked a holiday this week thinking he wouldn’t be working, but last year at this event he became great friends with Waleed who lives at the course and has caddied many times for South African player James Kamte and they’ve won events together.

He’s passionate about his golf, a great caddy, and his family welcomed me into their home for my two week spell in SA!

I really can’t thank them enough! I’ve been treated like one of the family and actually attended two Indian wedding functions during my stay which was an amazing experience!

500 guests at the wedding, I don’t even know 500 people!!!!

So back on the course Saturday for a 6.30am restart to finish round 2.

I tapped in my birdie but soon gave it back on nine after a weak three putt from distance!!!

So +1 for the day and +3 total, with the cut in the back of my mind at +1, I needed to charge!

I missed from 7ft on 10, and 8ft on 11 for birdie, and that’s tough to take when you’re chasing birdies – but Waleed kept me patient!

I had a 10ft chance on 12, and holed that – a massive boost and a relief that I made one… The 13th was then a great chance – down wind par 5 – I bombed my tee shot and was going in with 3 iron, but it took one hop on dry land before it came back into the water!

That was the birdie cancelled straight out!

But then the fun began …

– 9 iron to 3ft on 14th = birdie

– par 5 15th, 3 iron to 30ft = eagle

– wedge on 16th to 4ft = birdie

– 5 iron into the par 3 17th to 6ft = birdie

– 15 yard short of the last green = pitch in for birdie!

I played the last 5 holes in -6 and that moved me up to 20th in the tournament!

What a stretch of golf, and my Twitter account went crazy after the European Tour tweeted my finish!  We didn’t have much of a rest and we were straight back out on the course!

But the next two rounds were a battle and I gave away too many simple shots. It’s hopefully another big lesson learned and one I can take into the event next week!

Overall, though, another positive week on Tour, and it’s time to keep working hard and look forward to the Joburg Open!!



I’m delighted to announce that AZ INTEC have committed to continue their support for the 2016 season.

The support from AZ INTEC last season was fantastic, and it showed by having my best year to date on the Challenge Tour, and then going on to gain my European Tour card at the end of the year!

Without the support of companies/friends such as AZ INTEC my dream would not be possible.

I can’t thank Andy and Dianne enough and I’m delighted to be wearing the AZ INTEC logo on my collar for my rookie season on the European Tour!


To read more about what they do, please follow the below link.


Last modified: June 3, 2019