Wilco Nienaber is looking to use the memories of his maiden professional win at Fancourt Golf Estate to spur him on to further success at this week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am.
The stunning South African venue will stage the second of four co-sanctioned events between the European Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour as the relationship between the two Tours continues to blossom.
South African Nienaber made his career breakthrough at Fancourt in 2021 after defeating Sweden’s Henric Sturehed in a play-off, and he is delighted to be back in George as he goes in search of a second Dimension Data Pro-Am title.
“I’ve got some amazing memories here because it was actually my first win,” he said. “Whenever I arrive in George that is the first thing that pops into my mind, and it would be special to win this event twice.
“I want to win three events in South Africa in my career which are the Dimension Data Pro-Am, South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship. It’s been nice to have been able to tick one of those three special events off the list and it proves to me that I can do it.”
There are three courses at Fancourt Golf Estate – Outeniqua, Montagu and The Links – and every player will play one round on each of the three courses, before a cut is made at the end of round three leaving battle to commence on the Montagu for the fourth and final round.
The 22-year-old is relishing the opportunity to take on the different challenges that the Fancourt layouts present and is confident his game is trending in the right direction ahead of week two on the 2023 Road to Mallorca.
“We’re playing three courses this week,” he said. “Outeniqua is the friendlier course, Montagu is a tough test with firm greens and The Links is just a beautiful golf course. Fancourt is an amazing place and it’s a privilege to be able to play here this week.
“I’m feeling happy with my game at the moment. I’ve made some changes and I saw some improvements last week and now it is all about believing in myself.”
All professionals will play alongside an amateur partner for the event and will compete in the team competition in addition to the professional tournament. Former South African rugby union players Schalk Brits, who was part of the 2019 World Cup-winning team, and Schalk Burger Jnr will both tee it up, as well as former South African soccer player Jimmy Tau.
Nienaber is part of a strong field in George this week which includes South African Darren Fichardt, who has won this event twice, last week’s winner Benjamin Follett-Smith, two-time DP World Tour winner Lucas Bjerregaard and seven-time winner Alvaro Quiros.
Four former Challenge Tour Number Ones also form part of this week’s field, with Joachim B Hansen, Francesco Laporta, Andrea Pavan and Ricardo Gouveia all set to tee it up in the Western Cape.
The first round will get under way at 6:30am local time on Thursday February 9, with Nienaber teeing it up alongside England’s Sam Bairstow, and their amateur partners, at 8:25am on The Links.