Jock Wellington is targeting a return to his winning ways in the Indwe Risk Services South African Senior Amateur Stroke Play Championship next week.
The three-time champion believes his game is solid enough to challenge at Pecanwood Golf and Country Estate, but Wellington is doubtful that it will hold up against hot favourite, Mellette Hendrikse.
Mellette won five times this season, came second three times and racked up eight top 10 finishes.
He tops the rankings and is odds on the hot favourite, especially after the North West Senior Open victory a week ago.
“Pecanwood has some great bunkering, but the long hitters will just bomb it away because the fairways are so wide,” said Wellington.
“The shorter hitters like myself will have to rely on accuracy and a solid short game and hope the slopey greens will level things out. Mellette has been putting really well and that makes him someone to look out for.”
Defending champion Gavin van Aswegen, who has been nursing a torn calf muscle back to health, agreed.
“I’m excited to take up my title defence, but I’m going in with low expectations,” he said.
“If you ask me to pick a winner right now, I’ll go with Mellette and it’s not just about this season. He went to Fancourt as the defending champion, but the weather forced a 36-hole result.
“I was leading Mellette by one going into the final round and I imagine he must have felt hard done by.”
The man of the moment is forthright about his intentions at the superbly manicured Jack Nicklaus layout.
“I’m confident and I want to win this year,” the 54-year old Gauteng North golfer said.
There is no point in being bashful about it. I’m hitting the ball well and I’m putting well.
“I think a solid short game will be crucial. The course is pretty wide, but the greens are undulating. You need to know where you are going off the tee and you need to pick your spots to score.”
Hendrikse might be the odds on favourite, but he believes a number of golfers could do well.
“It’s a compliment to be tipped to win, but there are a lot of strong seniors in the field this year,” he said
Francois le Roux from Province was in contention last year and will be hunting his first win.
Basil Naidoo and Morgan Philips from KwaZulu-Natal cannot be discounted and neither can the experienced pair of Lawrence Franklin and Jock Wellington.
David Konzani from Eastern Province, Schalk Nadue and Ramon Rahme have all had solid seasons, too. Two-time winner this season, Dirk van der Merwe, Adrian Kriel, Tony Bailey, Lynton Beckett, Steve Cullen and former Senior chairman, Tim Hewan, are also among the other 2014 champions lining up in the senior amateur circuit’s flagship from 22-24 October.
“We have a very strong field competing in the A-Division this year and it promises to be a very exciting championship,” said Peter Olyott, Managing Director at Indwe.
“We are delighted to provide this national platform for our country’s leading seniors. The high level of competition that exists on the senior and super senior circuits is remarkable and this year’s championship promises to once again deliver a feast of high quality golf.” concludes Olyott.