Hennie Otto hunting form at DP World Champs
With the Sunshine Tour’s Lion of Africa Cape Town Open just a week away, South Africa’s Hennie Otto went hunting for form in the European Tour’s Final Series and found it in Dubai.
The two-time Italian Open champion carded rounds of 70 and 68 to tie for 12th on five under and is five strokes off the pace at the halfway mark in the season-finale DP World Championship.
More importantly, Otto has only dropped two shots in his two trips around the Jumeirah Golf Estates.
This is as good as the Anahita pro has played in four starts this November.
The problem is not that Otto hasn’t been scoring; it’s the bogeys that have forced the 38-year-old down the leaderboard in the last three events.
But after working with renowned coach Jamie Gough for three weeks, the outlook is improving.
“I have been struggling with my swing for the last two years since my back injury,” Otto said.
“I developed some problems trying to protect my back, but I just couldn’t solve it. I haven’t worked with a coach for eight or nine years, but I finally decided to call in the big gun.
“I started hitting the ball right all the time and blocking my shots. Jamie and I have attacked the issues, but it’s a process and we try to keep things simple during the tournaments.
“The good shots were there, but the bad shots were appalling. Now the good stuff is great and the bad stuff doesn’t look quite as ugly anymore.”
Otto reeled in 13 birdies at the BMW Masters, but slumped to a tie for 36th with 10 bogeys. He collected 10 birdies at the Seshan International, but 11 bogeys and two double bogeys later saw tie for 53rd at the World Golf Championship – HSBC Champions.
The former SA Open champion blasted from the blocks with three successive birdies and closed with a set of four for an opening 67 at the Turkish Airlines Open.
He started the second round in the same hurry, but dropped three shots on his way to a 69. In 72 holes, Otto racked up 22 birdies for a share of 19th, but gave 14 shots back to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal.
The putter is hot and the swing is improving, but Otto is itching for clean cards.
“I had a really good one today,” he said. “I pulled the tee shot right at the 12th and caught the fairway bunker, but I almost, almost made par. It felt good to walk off with just the one bogey.”
Otto secured his card for 2015 with the victory in Italy and has climbed well inside the top 50 in the rankings on the European Tour. His quest has little to do with the Race to Dubai and everything with the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open.
“I want to hunt down that spot in the Nedbank Golf Challenge,” Otto said.
“Every South African golfer grows up with two dreams. You want to win the SA Open and play Sun City. I’ve got my name on the SA Open trophy, but I still have to crack the nod for Africa’s Major.
“It’s early days with Jamie, but I’m happy with our progress. We are definitely moving in the right direction with the swing. Who knows, I might just hit the ground running in Cape Town next week.”
Otto tied for third in the 2002 Vodacom Players Championship, placed top 10 on three more occasions at Royal Cape and finished third in the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open last year. And his fans know that when Otto gets the bit between his teeth, he is hard to beat.