Rising South African star Callum Mowat no doubt has a date with destiny waiting for him on the Sunshine Tour and the 23-year-old is confident that if it comes this week in the Africa Open at East London Golf Club, he will be ready.
Mowat, a leading amateur golfer, turned pro in 2014 and finished a highly-creditable 62nd on the Order of Merit. He has built on that solid start to his professional career with impressive recent form that saw him finish in a tie for third at the Dimension Data Pro-Am and then tied-13th at last week’s Joburg Open, earning himself over R400 000 for the fortnight and lifting him to ninth in this year’s money-list.
“I’m in good form at the moment and I’m getting used to playing alongside some top golfers, playing with my role-models, just putting that aside. I feel like I’m finding my comfort zone and if I get towards the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, I’m ready to take my chances, I’ll definitely go for it. You never know what might happen,” Mowat said on Tuesday at East London Golf Club.
Mowat was pleased with his efforts at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in the Joburg Open, which was just the fourth co-sanctioned European Tour event he has played in. An opening round of 71 on the West Course was his undoing, but rounds of 65, 71 and 68 on the tough East Course showed what he is capable of.
“I had a good finish in the Joburg Open, but it was a pity about my start – to shoot level-par on the West Course when most of the golfers were going more deep under-par there,” Mowat said.
A tied-29th finish at last year’s Tshwane Open was his previous best finish in a co-sanctioned event, and Mowat is looking forward to competing with the best in windy coastal conditions now.
There is reportedly a gale brewing and heading towards East London in time for the Africa Open, but the Central Gauteng-based Mowat is unconcerned.
“I’ve done well in windy conditions previously and if it blows this week then I could have a look in,” the winner of the 2013 Southern Cape Amateur Championship said. “I played an SA Amateur here in East London and it’s a good course, you can do well if you keep the ball in play. I think that’s the key because there’s a lot of bush around.
“My ball-flight is lower, not like most Gauteng golfers, which helps in the wind. I’m more of a ‘feel’ golfer, I think I can manipulate the ball quite well and I enjoy playing different shots. I enjoy the challenge, you have to really think about where to hit the ball and then ‘feel’ it in there, it becomes a fun game,” Mowat said.
The shortness of the East London Golf Club course – it measures just 6051 metres but is hilly – also suits the talented all-round sportsman from King Edward VII High School.
“Pitching is my strength and on the shorter courses I’ve done better because of that. It all depends on the wind though, because if it blows the wrong way then it can make the course very long,” Mowat said.
The value of experience at the old-style course, one of the oldest in South Africa, that mixes aspects of parkland and links golf, is shown by the list of previous winners – Thomas Aiken, Darren Fichardt, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Retief Goosen – but Mowat is confident he can carry the confidence from winning at amateur level into the paid ranks.
“I think it will be the same feeling at the top of the leaderboard, there will obviously be nerves. The fact that you’re playing for money makes it a bit bigger, but it’s still the trophy you’re playing for at the end.
“You just have to try and keep it together down the stretch, it’s just a bigger event. It’s about coping with pressure and I just need to think about how I’ve done it before,” Mowat said.