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28th June 2017 | Big Easy Tour

Tight at the top of Big Easy Order of Merit

After six events on the Big Easy Tour in the new season – three of which were co-sanctioned with the MENA Tour with bigger purses of R400,000 – and some big wins for a number of players, things are getting tight at the top of the Order of Merit with margins separating the top three very slim.

Those top-three spots are occupied, in order, by Maritz Wessels, Daniel Hammond and Etienne Bond. Wessels has finished in the top 25 in all the events this season, except for his 76th at The Roar, while his best finish so far has been that second spot he got at Killarney. He sits at the top with R30,411 so far. Contrasting fortunes indeed, seeing that he finished the last season lying 73rd on the Order of Merit.

“Last season, I didn’t start well,” Wessels says, “I had a knee operation early on and I rushed my rehabilitation and started playing just weeks after I got rid of the crutches. So, I wasn’t as strong as I would have liked.”

He says he then gave up playing and began caddying for Louis de Jager for the first few events of the Sunshine Tour this season. “During that time a lot of changes happened,” he recalls, “and, I began to think differently around the golf course. I became more patient with my game and myself.”

With a tightly-contested top spot on the Order of Merit, Wessels is under no illusion about the work that lies ahead if he intends on keeping that spot for long. “Of course I would like to stay up there for as long as possible,” he says, “but, you have to work for that. I believe if I put in the hard work, then the results will take care of themselves.”

Hammond, on the other hand, and after five events, has won once at co-sanctioned The Roar and made top-10 with an eighth-place finish at Modderfontein. His worst result so far is the 67th he got the Joburg City Masters. He looks like a man on a mission to better his last season’s finish where he finished 10th on the Order of Merit after 11 tournaments. He currently occupies second with R30,233.

The 36-year-old Bond is on third with R29,627 so far, and, like Wessels, has not won this season. He finished second at Modderfontein and has three more top-20 finishes at Killarney (19th), Kempton Park (12th) and at Ebotse (20th). After ending last season lying 13th after the eight tournaments he played, Bond will want to improve further on an already impressive season.

Bennie van der Merwe lies fourth while England’s Chris Cannon lies fifth and boasts a win from the Kempton park event. Making up the top 10 in the Order of Merit so far is Jacques P de Villiers, Duan Keun, Matias Calderon, Omar Sandys and Pieter Kruger.