MJ Daffue leads SA charge at US Open

MJ Daffue is the best placed South Africa at the US Open

MJ Daffue is the best placed South Africa at the US Open. Picture: Gregory Shamus

Published Jun 17, 2022


Centurion - MJ Daffue led the SA charge in the first round of the US Open with a three-under 67 at The Country Club, in Brookline, on Thursday.

Daffue is in a five-way tie for second, one shot behind Canadian Adam Hadwin who set the pace with a four-under 66.

The Pretoria-born Daffue who plies his trade on the secondary Korn Ferry Tour in the US, is relatively unknown compared to the other SA players in the field - Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Shaun Norris and Erik van Rooyen.

Fresh off securing his PGA Tour card last month, as he currently occupies fourth spot on the Korn Ferry season-long points list. Daffue has 925 points, with 900 and above in position to guarantee a PGA Tour card for next season.

Securing his playing privileges for next season will have meant the world for the 33-year-old who started the year ranked 897th in the world, and is now ranked 296th.

“I've been playing with some freedom, especially starting the year,” said Daffue after the round.

“I've been so focused on my process and my goals, and I know that the ability is there. It's just how do I bring it out.

“I think now I've finally this week probably started feeling the freedom because I'm, like, I secured my card next year, and maybe I can go for a few more things that I would never have.”

Interestingly, Daffue has a connection with two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen. The pair met at Centurion Golf Club in Gauteng when Daffue was just 11, a couple weeks before Goosen won his first US Open in 2001. Goosen and Daffue have stayed in touch ever since.

“The one time I asked him [Retief], I said, hey, how do you do so well under pressure in U.S. Opens? He said, I've just done it a few times. It makes a lot of sense, actually. The more you do it, the more you get used to it.

“But he has just been encouraging. He has been sending me encouraging messages as far as, listen, the ability is there. It's just how do you put it together and believe in yourself.

“Obviously, [it’s] a big year. My sports psychologist and my coach [are there], my coach is on the bag. Just to be able to have people there to rein you in. I'm like a wild horse, you know, and they just need to guide me in the right direction, so it's been really good.”

The next best SA player on the leaderboard was Norris on level par 70 in a tie for 26th.

Grace was well down in 125th spot on six-over 76, Oosthuizen was 136th on seven-over 77 and Van Rooyen was 144th after his eight-over 78.


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