Fichardt bids to become second South African to win Joburg Open twice

Darren Fichardt during Day 2 of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on March 03, 2017 in Pretoria.
Darren Fichardt during Day 2 of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on March 03, 2017 in Pretoria.
Image: Luke Walker/Sunshine

Defending champion Darren Fichardt will attempt to become the second South African to win the Joburg Open twice when this year’s event tees off at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Richard Sterne was the last South African to win the title twice in 2008 and 2013.

The Joburg Open‚ which is normally played on the two courses at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington‚ has been moved to Firethorn and Bushwillow courses at Randpark this year.

As he wrapped up the preparations on Wednesday‚ Fichardt said he was not bothered by the change of venue as he played at Randpark a few years ago.

“I last played Randpark a few years ago and it’s pretty much ‘what you see is what you get’‚” he said.

“I don’t know Bushwillow‚ so I’ll have to check that out blind tomorrow.

"But the courses are pretty much standard Highveld parklands courses and I know those well.

"The greens are running nicely‚ so I’ll be looking for fairways and greens and go from there.

"I am not worried too much about length because that’s not much of an issue on either course.”

Fichardt finished 68th on the European tour’s Race to Dubai in the 2017 season and is looking forward to using the South African events in the form of the Joburg Open‚ the BMW SA Open and the Tshwane Open.

"I didn’t play as many tournaments as I usually do last year with family issues.

"My mother-in-law was battling cancer but she’s healthy again. So I’m looking forward to playing a lot more than I did last year.

"In fact‚ I didn’t have a bad season last year. I didn’t have a really bad tournament since Switzerland‚ really.”

The other South African to look out for in the tournament is Dylan Frittelli who has never played at the Bushwillow course before.

“I haven’t played at Bushwillow yet‚ so I will have that blind tomorrow.

"But I have my caddie and yardage book‚ so I’m sure we will figure it out tomorrow and make some birdies‚” he said.

However‚ Frittelli is happy to keep his practicing down to a minimum when he’s on courses he knows and he’s secure in the knowledge that Firethorn at Randpark will be more familiar.

“I played here as a junior‚" he said.

"I played a foundation event probably in 2006 and then I came back about five or six weeks ago. I have a friend who is a member‚ so I played a round with him on the Firethorn course.

"So‚ it’s totally changed since the last time I played it.”