Mark Williams is defending champion in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at St Francis Links, which gets under way on Thursday, and he brings good form as well as good memories into the tournament.
He finished in a share of 10th in last week’s Sunshine Tour event played at Port Elizabeth’s Humewood Golf Club, and that would have given him a degree of confidence as he tries to repeat the performance that gave him his first win on the tour.
He also finished in a share of seventh at the Fish River Sun a week before Port Elizabeth, so he is certainly bringing some good game form into the wind which is predicted for St Francis Links.
He coped with strong winds when he won last year, and played well enough to be able to survive a double-bogey six on the 18th. He had built up a four-stroke cushion over runner-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout heading up the final fairway, and he drank in the pleasure of winning his maiden Sunshine Tour title after 14 years on the circuit.
His recipe was simple last year. He used two-iron off the tee exclusively, and it was only on the final hole that it misfired and landed him in the water to the left of the fairway.
That win was particularly sweet, because he called a penalty shot on himself at the tournament at St Francis Links the previous year, and lost by one.
This time around, he has an in-form Bezuidenhout to contend with again. Bezuidenhout was runner-up in Port Elizabeth to first-time winner Tyrone Ryan.
As well as those two there are a host of players who coped well in Port Elizabeth’s win, including recent winner Jaren Harvey, and the man who could have won there but for a poor final round, Colin Nel.
For Williams last year, the victory was about opening doors in the future, rather than getting a monkey off his back. ‘Getting into the winner’s category on the Sunshine Tour makes a big difference in terms of tournaments I can get into,’ he said then, ‘and I hope I can be in there more often now.’
Now, with his game in place, his determination will get put to the test.
Picture of Williams courtesy of Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images