Oliver Bekker was ’on my way to quit crazy game’ golf before resurgence

South Africa’s Oliver Bekker has revealed that he was close to quitting professional golf just over a year ago. Picture credit: Sunshine Tour

South Africa’s Oliver Bekker has revealed that he was close to quitting professional golf just over a year ago. Picture credit: Sunshine Tour

Published Mar 11, 2022


Centurion - South Africa’s Oliver Bekker has revealed that he was close to quitting professional golf just over a year ago, as his world ranking had fallen to well outside the top-500.

The 37-year-old Bekker has since had a sudden, and almost unexpected, he admits, upturn in form that see’s him now listed as the 11th best player from the Rainbow Nation and 138th in the world.

“I was actually on my way to quitting golf at the beginning of last year. I had told my wife it was my last year,” Bekker wrote on the European Tour website in his player blog.

“I joined a management company that started up and I’m still managing some South African players, but I was going to phase out of the golf and phase into the management position, and that was the plan. I wasn’t going to play full-time anymore, and then all of a sudden things worked out for me and I am where I am now. It’s a crazy game.”

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Bekker earned his DP World Tour (DPWT) card through the European Challenge Tour at the end of January, and has made his newly-acquired privileges count.

Since then, Bekker has notched up two ninth place and one eighth place finishes in the four DPWT events he’s played. That works out to R1.66m in earnings from those events, and if he can keep those kind of performances up Bekker could just be in line for this best season of his career.

“The first week in Ras Al Khaimah was a big week for me, because although I felt that I was good enough to be on this Tour, I still needed to prove it to myself.

“I went into that event mentally treating it as my first start. I got into Abu Dhabi late because of Covid withdrawals so only arrived on Tuesday and then had a stomach bug and a tough draw, so I wrote that one off and treated Ras Al Khaimah as event one. I liked the course in the practice round and felt like I could contend, but then to go out there and actually compete, and be in the second last group on a Sunday was confirmation of that.

“It was a big week for me personally, and then to follow it up the week after helped me a lot. The course record at Al Hamra was a nice bonus, and then to shoot the lowest final round in Kenya on the Sunday gave me more confidence.”

In fact, Bekker says that his current state of mind and golf performances are much like what he experienced five years ago. In 2017 Bekker won three times on the local Sunshine Tour, finished third twice and had another top-10 as he ended the year ranked 270th in the world.

“If I think back on it, what’s weird is that it was so similar to what happened in 2017. I had started studying again, and I was going to become a Chartered Financial Analyst because while I loved playing golf, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.

— Sunshine Tour (@Sunshine_Tour) October 27, 2016

“I also knew I didn’t want to be only playing the Sunshine Tour for the rest of my life, and I felt that if I couldn’t make it on to the biggest stages in the world then I’d rather do something else. It’s not worth being away from your family for that amount of time if it’s not lucrative enough. So I was busy studying while playing, and I would go to the tournaments and hardly play a practice round or warm up and just tee off and play. I don’t know if it was the change in mindset or because I wasn’t so worried about what I was doing that was the difference but all of a sudden I started winning tournaments, and qualified for the U.S. Open.”

His time away from the course in 2017 was spent working on his fitness, not solely because he wanted to improve his golf - but for his own enjoyment Bekker explained.

“There were other similarities too. In 2017 I was doing trail running, and I didn’t care if I got injured because I knew I was going to stop playing so much. Last year, I started doing CrossFit, and I had the same mentality. I do those things because I enjoy them, and then all of a sudden both years things blossomed a little unexpectedly and I was in a position where I was contending to win tournaments.”

With lowered expectations and a new-found confidence, Bekker may just have cause to keep going a few years more in this crazy game of golf.


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