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Ken Borland

An early look at the course & conditions one of the premises of playing in a pro-am, & O’Kennedy takes full advantage 0

Posted on October 27, 2022 by Ken

SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal – One of the premises of playing in a pro-am event for the professionals is that it allows them an early look at the course and the conditions before their proper tournament, and Hennie O’Kennedy certainly made full use of the opportunity to play in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series San Lameer Pro-Am by winning the competition on Wednesday with amateur partner Tyler Whittaker.

The 26-year-old O’Kennedy says he now knows all about the San Lameer Country Club layout ahead of their Sunshine Tour event there starting on Thursday. And the Stellenbosch Golf Club representative has played it both in the wind on Wednesday and in calmer weather on the first day.

“I expected nothing less than a lot of wind from San Lameer, but it was a beautiful day yesterday,” O’Kennedy said. “I didn’t play last week, so it’s been really nice to come in early here and open up what will be a seven-week stretch for me with a pro-am win.

“Today San Lameer just gave us a taste of what she’s made of and it was really fun. It meant you had to hit a lot of different shots and I enjoyed it. It’s a phenomenal course.

“There’s a lot of water and it’s been called the Blue Monster of South Africa. There’s quite a lot of uphills and downhills as well, so you need to be creative, which makes it more fun.

“If it were flat, it would be simple, but even the greens here, you have to work with the slopes. You really need to stick to your game-plan and really commit to your shots. Fortunately my game-plan seems to be good,” O’Kennedy said cheerfully.

O’Kennedy’s 11th position on the Luno Order of Merit marks him out as someone to watch as the Sunshine Tour builds towards all the mega-tournaments at the end of the year.

He made an impression at the start of the season with three top-10 finishes, before dropping back into the middle of the field in the middle of the year.

“I made a little change with my putter and I reckon that’s why there was a bit of a dip. But now I’ve changed back to my Moneymaker and hopefully that will help me get back to my best.

“Hopefully this week will put me back on track for the next seven weeks and then the co-sanctioned tournaments that follow,” O’Kennedy said.

His playing partner Whittaker is one of the founders of the Custom Apparel golfwear company that sponsors O’Kennedy and is a partner of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series.

O’Kennedy is a tall, physically-imposing person who stands out in a crowd, but the funky, tropical-themed golf shirts he wore from CA made him even more of a landmark.

“I never expected this, but we dovetailed amazingly well. We play at San Lameer now and then on golf tour, and it is amazing, a really tight set-up.

“The wind was way harder today, but we made it work for ourselves and just played the right shot at the right time,” Whittaker, who hails from Durban and plays off a 5.4 handicap, said.

“I could not have asked for a better partner than Tyler,” O’Kennedy said. “It was  nice to meet him because he has really helped me out with clothing, and he’s a solid golfer and you could not ask for a better person.”

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