MBABANE – He’s been pipped in a play-off twice at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club, but Jake Roos is hoping for better in this week’s R800,000 Royal Swazi Spa Challenge which tees off on Thursday.
His last play-off defeat came back in May at the hands of the red-hot Justin Harding, who has gone on to break into the ranks of the world’s top 100 players, and Roos had opportunities to down Harding in the six-hole marathon which decided the Lombard Insurance Classic.
Roos has reason to be optimistic about his chances on a course he knows well: Besides coming close in May, he won on it back in 2012 – beating off the very same Harding in a play-off!
“It seems as if Justin was involved in everything,” laughed Roos. “And both times I shot 63 in the final round to get into the play-off. I hope I get a decent round a little earlier this week and get myself clear of having to contest a play-off.”
His two most recent runner-up finishes also came in play-offs. “That’s how it goes,” he said. “As long as you keep knocking on the door, that’s the important thing.
"I was quite aggressive in the play-offs. In one, I went for the green at Gary Player Country Club in two and paid the price, and here against Justin, I went for all my putts and didn’t leave anything short. You’ve got to be philosophical about it. If it comes my way, then great, but you can’t demand things from this game.”
He has reason to believe, however, that if it comes to a play-off again, he will be in pretty good shape to win that, as he became known as one of the best exponents of play-off golf when he won his first five of six Sunshine Tour titles in play-offs.
He will face some tough opposition from a field which will be itching to take advantage of the fact the Harding is abroad in Fiji this week.
Chief amongst them will be Merrick Bremner, who lost out to Michael Palmer’s maiden Sunshine Tour victory in Kenya 10 days ago. Bremner also has history on the course, having won the Lombard Insurance Classic three times – in 2008, 2013 and 2016.
Bremner’s game came together with a vengeance in Kenya, and it was only an extraordinary week from Palmer which held him off.
Palmer himself will be itching to show that he belongs now that he has turned a dismal start to the year which had six consecutive missed cuts ahead of the victory.
Also performing well in Kenya were Pieter Moolman, Tyrone Ryan and Daniel van Tonder, all of whom had a chance to win there. Of the three, Moolman is seeking his maiden win, Ryan is looking for number two after breaking through last year, and Van Tonder is seeking his third after a victory drought of over four years.
Roos himself is also short of recent victories. His last on the Sunshine Tour came in April 2013 when he won in Harare, but he also won twice in 2014 on the Challenge Tour.
Now would be a good time to win again.
African News Agency (ANA)