Pretoria Country Club will differ greatly from the Copperleaf course he won the title on last year, but Englishman Ross Fisher will be the favourite when the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open starts this morning at the parklands course in Waterkloof.
Fisher is the second highest-ranked golfer in the field at 66th in the world rankings, behind compatriot Andy Sullivan (57th), so he has the pedigree; and he certainly has the form judging by his lofty third position in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
The lanky 34-year-old comes to Pretoria fresh off a tie for 23rd in the lucrative WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral, where he finished with three rounds of par or better, so Fisher is in a good frame of mind.
“It’s a very different course, a lot shorter and more fiddly, there’s a lot of positional play off the tees so you’re hitting a lot of irons and not many drivers. I prefer quite long and tight courses because driver is my strength, but it’s been a very good start to the season. Finishing second at Sun City was a great start, I had a decent three weeks in the desert and I’m really pleased I came back well at Doral.
“This course should be easier because the winds were pretty strong and there was a lot of water at Doral, but there’s still trouble out there. But I’ve come up with my own game plan, being strategic is going to play a critical role,” Fisher said yesterday.
The former Ryder Cup player’s namesake, Trevor Fisher Junior, is still recovering from his breakthrough win last weekend at the Africa Open in East London, but the South African is determined to not rest on that triumph.
“I’m still on a high, but it’s been tough with all the calls and messages and with all the excitement I’ve hardly slept. But last week is now in the past and I just want to get out on to the first tee and play. I don’t want to get comfortable, I want to try and win again as soon as possible,” Fisher Junior said.
“If it will take a week or 10 months, I don’t know. There are such small margins in golf,” he said before using his own poor form at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, where he shot 74-69-78-76, two weeks prior to East London, as an illustration.
That will give hope to George Coetzee, who is playing on his home course, but admits he doesn’t know whether he is going “to play well or badly until the first tee on Thursday”.