Pablo Martin is hoping a return to his “special place” at the unique Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa can help him secure a third successive Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The Spaniard has won the last two editions of the championship to establish a wonderful affinity with one of the world’s most fascinating golf courses, where many of the planet’s most amazing animals reside in their natural habitat.
Now he has history in his sights as he bids to become only the fifth player to complete a hat-trick of victories. Should he win for a third consecutive time, the Spaniard would join Ian Woosnam (1990-92 Monte Carlo Open); Sir Nick Faldo (1991-93 Irish Open); Tiger Woods (1999-01 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational, 2005-07 WGC – CA Championship and 2005-07 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational) and Ernie Els (2002-04 Heineken Classic), as the only players to win the same European Tour event three times in succession.
Martin’s two shot victory over Anthony Michael, Thorbjørn Olesen and Charl Schwartzel in December of last year was the first event in The 2011 Race to Dubai, and, now with just four events remaining before the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World, the tournament takes on a new significance with various sub plots bubbling under the surface. Many will be eyeing a place in the season climax while others are involved in a battle to retain their playing rights for 2012.
Martin has no such worries about his card but needs to rediscover his outstanding Leopard Creek form to guarantee a place in The European Tour’s season-ending finale.
“It’s such an amazing place,” said Martin. “It’s just beautiful and one of those places that you get on Tour that you can get away from the golf course and experience something amazing. To go on safari and hopefully see some of the ‘big five’ – it really is special.
“I have been lucky enough to see quite a few lions but the only leopard I have seen is the trophy. Maybe I shouldn’t complain about that because it has been a great trophy for me for the last two years. Hopefully I can do it again.
“I don’t know what it is about the place. If I knew what it was that makes me win there I would do it every week but it is the place that I just go to and become totally relaxed.”
Martin is the first to admit that his form over the past two months has been nowhere near the standard to complete a hat-trick of Alfred Dunhill Championships, but he has experienced enough in the game of golf to know that everything can change in a single moment.
“I need to find something this week because I have not a lot of confidence at the moment so I don’t know what to expect to be honest.
“But you just never know with this game. Golf is a crazy sport that drives you mad most of the time and it might the case that this week I find my game again in this very special place and maybe I can do something good.
“It would be great to win it again. Three times would be special and if I do it I will be taking that trophy home – even if they won’t let me!”