I love South Africa. This is my fourth time here, so I’m getting to know the course a bit better and I think this is one of those courses you really need to know your way around. You have to drive it well, which is normally one of my strengths. South Africa has always been one of my favourite countries and I love coming to Sun City for this event. It’s great that it’s part of the Rolex Series now.
I’d rather play in this heat than in cold weather like we get back home. I think you do get used to it, but we go to even hotter places like Malaysia and Singapore. It’s a mind-set thing as well. If you think about it every second it will become a struggle. If you just try to take it as it comes it’ll come easier. My body reacts better to heat than cold, so I’m pretty good here!
I’m just outside the top 30 on the Race to Dubai right now, but in these events a top three or top five can really make a difference. It’s hard to set goals, but you just want to be up there on a Sunday trying to win and the rest will take care of itself. Everybody says it, but that’s how it is, especially in the big events. I want to have a chance coming down the stretch in the last two events and to be able to enjoy coming down the stretch. I’ve not been in that position for a long time, although I was close at Valderrama. I think the key to playing well under pressure is to enjoy it. I pay attention to the World Ranking when I play well! If I don’t play well there’s no point in looking at it. After Valderrama I started to look and I’d moved up 20 spots, so it then becomes fun to look at the rankings.
The albatross at Valderrama was my second on tour. I had one in Durban and saw it go in, but we weren’t sure in Spain. We heard the crowd and they were pretty loud. When I walked up a bit further and heard them go crazy, I thought it has to be in. I saw it was straight at the pin and saw on television that it just caught the right lip and went in. It’s one of those moments that’s very rare.
We went on a safari here on Monday. It was me and my girlfriend, Bernd Wiesberger, David Horsey, Chris Wood and Ian Poulter and his caddie, Terry. To be able to experience the real South Africa is very special and the excitement is that you don’t know what you’re going to see. You could see nothing or everything. We drove around for an hour and saw more of the usual animals, like impalas, and then all of a sudden we saw lions and elephants within 600 yards of each other. It’s very impressive to see those animals living the way they should live.
Representing my country at the Olympic Games last year was special. Seeing the Olympic Village, sharing a flat with the whole team and being part of a team representing your country was great. To see all the other athletes doing their thing and training was very cool. It’s hard to explain what that village was like. The atmosphere inside was so special. We went to see other sports, like the swimming and also to see the Dutch men’s tennis doubles team who were playing against Spain, who had Nadal in their team. I’m really looking forward to Japan in 2020, because I think they are crazy about golf there.
I used to do a lot of ski jumping. I was ten years old and where I lived in Holland there was this little artificial ski hill and they had a selection day. I’ve got three older brothers, so we went and had to do a couple of jumps. All of a sudden I was selected for the Dutch team and we had to go to Germany every weekend to practice. The adrenaline you get when you sit on the top of the hill and you have to let go is something I loved. I love things that other people don’t dare to do, I’m one of those guys! Unfortunately I had to quit because I had an accident and I ended up getting more involved in golf afterwards.
There was a little bit of rivalry with my brothers growing up, but none of them play golf. The good thing was you always had somebody to do something with. Of course we had fights, but that’s part of being brothers. I’m the youngest, so I took a lot of hits, but when I got older I could give them back a little bit!
Joost is not actually my given first name. I was named after my uncle who took me to play golf. His name is Willibrordus Adrianus Maria Luiten, so on my passport I have that name. It’s funny because some people struggle to say Joost!
I support Feyenoord and trained with the team in 2012. I know a guy who is involved with Feyenoord and he’s been one of my sponsors for a while. He said to come over to the stadium and we’ll have a cup of coffee. On the Monday morning I got there and there were hidden cameras. I walked into the stadium and talked to him for a few minutes and then we went down to the changing room. The whole team was there and the manager at the time was Ronald Koeman. He introduced me to the players and then said ‘here’s your stuff, you’re training with us today.’ That was a nice surprise and cool to see those guys up close. Daryl Janmaat, who plays for Watford now, was there and so was Graziano Pelle, who played for Southampton. I’d met Koeman before, because he loves his golf. He has a house in Portugal and every time we played the Portugal Masters he’d come over for nine holes. It was the first time they’d allowed an outsider into the training session, so that was pretty cool.
Next year a few things will change in the schedule, so over winter I need to have a good look at it. It’s always Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai, but there’s a bit of change after that, so I’ll need to come up with a plan. I am looking forward to a break, though, because it’s been a long season. I’ll do some gym work and mentally have a rest too. It’s also a Ryder Cup year, so we’ll be looking to come up with a plan that will give me a chance to qualify. It’s also important not to overplay. You can get injuries before you know it, so you can’t chase it, it has to just happen. The Rolex Series is now so important, so the schedule needs to be right to make sure you play your best golf in those events.