By Michael Vlismas
STANGER, KwaZulu-Natal (30 April 2017) – Marco Steyn heads into this week’s Oxigen Prince’s Grant National Amateur Invitational as the highest ranked player in a quality field and with his game having turned a corner after a difficult start to the year.
The Central Gauteng golfer is looking forward to chasing one of the most prestigious titles in South African amateur golf from Monday, and at a time when he feels he’s getting back to top form.
“I had a bit of a rough start to the season. The beginning of the season didn’t go too well, but that’s part of golf. You have your ups and downs. But in the last two tournaments I sort of got my game back,” Steyn said on the eve of Monday’s first round.
Ranked sixth in the country, Steyn has reason to feel confident following his runner-up finish to Nicolas Frade – also in the field this week – in last week’s Western Province Amateur Stroke Play and then also making it through to the semi-finals of the Western Province Amateur.
And before this he rediscovered his putting form at Stellenbosch Golf Club on his way to finishing tied sixth in the Boland Amateur Stroke Play.
“My putting hasn’t been too good this year but I found a little bit of confidence at the Boland Amateur Stroke Play, and then the Western Province Amateur gave me a lot of confidence as well. If I can just keep the putter working this week it should be fine.
“But I’m also trying to treat it just like any other tournament. There are lots of great players out here so I need to play good golf. It’s a tough course so the strategy will be to just keep it in play and take the birdies when they come,” he said.
Although he is making his debut in this tournament, and seeing the magnificent Prince’s Grant golf course for the first time, Steyn’s desire to win this title is obvious when you consider its list of past champions, including former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, European Tour champions Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous, as well as a number of current Sunshine Tour professionals.
“This is a big tournament and it will be great to have my name alongside some of those big names on the trophy. Seeing names like that motivates players to do well and win this tournament. I’ve had my first look at the golf course and it’s wonderful. It looks like a good challenge,” he said.
Course Superintendent Jacques van der Westhuizen says the course is expected to play mostly the same as it did for last year’s tournament, except for one or two new tee options and more challenging pin placements.
“The course is in good shape. We’d have liked a bit more rain, but the greens are rolling well and should get faster as the tournament goes on. There is no rain predicted for the tournament and we should get a bit of wind each day.”