RUSTENBERG - The name Zak Williamson won’t be known to too many golfing fans. For what it’s worth, he was Jonas Blixt’s caddie when the Swede competed at his only Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in 2014.
But that is not why anyone should know who Williamson is.
What made the bag-man a mini celebrity and subject of plenty of bar talk that week in early December three years ago, is the fact no one recognised Williamson during his employer’s round because every part of his exposed skin was covered in white sun-cream.
He also wore a wide broad-rim hat while plotting his and Blixt’s way around the Gary Player Country Club, ensuring the harsh African sun didn’t cause any damage to his skin.
Temperatures soared into the late 30s that week and again here ahead of Thursday's start of the this year's edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, temperatures are almost unbearable.
Wednesday afternoon while the players tweaked their games ahead of the first round, a temperature of 40°C was recorded, while on Tuesday when Branden Grace arrived at Sun City the mercury hit 38.
“The heat’s going to be a big factor here this week,” said the South African. “It’s really hot this year, in fact it’s been brutal the last few days.
"It’s going to be tough out there and it’s going to be very important to stay hydrated ... and to not make it any tougher for oneself than it’s going to be anyway.”
The forecast for Thursday and Fruiday is for hot, clear conditions, with temperatures to peak at around 34, while Saturday and Sunday are expected to be slightly cooler with some cloud and the chance of thunderstorms.
Williamson took no chances with the sun a few years ago and the players, caddies and spectators would be well advised to also cover up this week.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Dean Burmester is hoping the Nedbank Challenge trophy will be held aloft by a local after the final round is completed at the Gary Player Country on Sunday.
This year marks 10 years since the last South African triumphed at Africa’s Major, when Trevor Immelman prevailed.
“We’re quite a few South Africans in the field so hopefully, we can keep the trophy right here at home,” said Burmester, who won his first European Tour title this season at the Tshwane Open in March.
“Every little boy that plays golf in South Africa is watching the Nedbank and we watched Ernie and Retief and Trevor, and all the guys.”
The 28-year-old comes off a tie for 61st in the Turkish Airlines Open last week, and will be aiming - like his compatriots - for a strong showing in his native climate.
“I think when you have spent a bit of time in Europe, it does when you come back.
"Before I went to Turkey, I have been lucky enough to be at home for a few weeks, so I’ve kind of acclimatised.
"I think the heat plays in the South Africans’ favour so, you know the heat and the kikuyu grass. It will be good for the South Africans and hopefully we’ll see a few boys up there,” Burmester explained.
Burmester is joined in the field by multiple European Tour winners Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Brandon Stone, Branden Grace, Haydn Porteous, George Coetzee, Richard Sterne and Dylan Frittelli who won his first European Tour in June this year.
Broadcast of the event starts at 9am tomorrow on SS1.