While some European Tour players like to keep their power dry until the “Desert Swing” at the start of a new year, not even a herd of marauding wild buffalo would keep David Drysdale away from South Africa in early January.
Having already paid a visit to the Rainbow Nation before Christmas to launch the 2016 campaign at Leopard Creek, the 40-year-old from Cockburnspath has returned for the BMW SA Open starting today in Johannesburg.
“We are staying with some friends this week, we are having a Braai every night and it is very relaxed,” said Drysdale, who, as always, has been accompanied on the trip by his wife, Vicky.
She posted a picture on Twitter of the pair arriving at the airport to start their journey last week and the smile on Drysdale’s face told its own story. Put simply, he just loves playing golf in South Africa and it’s a country that has a habit of bringing out the best in him.
Take the aforementioned Alfred Dunhill Championship, for example. He was in the top 10 for most of the week before having to settle for a share of 18th position following a wobble on the back nine in the last round.
“I was a little bit disappointed with that finish as I couple of silly decisions cost me, but it was still a decent start to the season,” he said. “Having had a holiday in Thailand then spending Christmas at home, I hadn’t hit a ball for a month but it was a nice break.
“I’ve put lots of practise in this week, especially on the chipping and putting, and I’m looking forward to getting started. The course is in great condition and, though there’s not as much rough as last year, there’s still enough there that you need to be straight off the tee.”
Craig Lee, Jamie McLeary and amateur Daniel Young also tee up in an event that sees Englishman Andy Sullivan defend the title against a home contingent led by major champions Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman.
McLeary, a graduate from the 2015 Challenge Tour, is hoping to make amends for the disappointment of missing the cut at Leopard Creek on his return to the top circuit.
“Leopard Creek was disappointing because I really like the course and feel like it suits me,” he said. “I should have made the cut, but I just didn’t drive the ball well.
“I also took four to get down from 150 yards and in the middle of a fairway at one hole. I didn’t putt well during the week either, so I have been trying to practice that quite a bit before the start of the year.
“I haven’t played much golf over last month or so as the weather back home has been terrible but I’ve been hitting it okay in practice, so we will see how it all goes.
“I’m hopefully going to play in the next five events and and am hoping for a big year. I’m not setting any goals. I’ll just aim to play as well as I can and see what happens.”