Marco Penge is looking to build on solid foundations at this week’s Limpopo Championship after an impressive return to the Road to Mallorca last week following a long injury lay-off.
The Englishman recorded a European Challenge Tour career-best fourth place finish at the SDC Open, his first competitive appearance in over eighth months after suffering a knee injury mid-way through last season, and the 23-year-old was delighted to be back in action.
Penge tees it up again this week at the last of six successive South African tournaments which have been co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour. The Limpopo Championship will be played across two superb courses, Euphoria Golf Club and Koro Creek Golf Club, for the first two days before the weekend action takes place exclusively at Euphoria Golf Club.
“Last week was brilliant,” he said. “It was great to be back out playing and see everyone who I haven’t seen for a very long time. It’s my first time in South Africa and I’m loving it. Lots of people have told me how amazing it is but to come here and experience it first hand is special and I’m so lucky to be doing what I’m doing.
“I’ve had a really tough time over the last year with injury. I was thinking that the knee surgery wasn’t going to work properly and I would be back to square one. My physio gave me the self-belief that I could perform and last week has been the best my knee has felt for seven months.”
The 23-year-old, who graduated through the EuroPro Tour in 2019 after finishing third on the Order of Merit, believes the Challenge Tour creates the perfect environment to develop as a young player, admitting he takes inspiration from the likes of four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka, 2017 Race to Dubai Champion Tommy Fleetwood and two-time Ryder Cup player Tyrrell Hatton, who all learned their trade on the Tour.
“The Challenge Tour provides the perfect platform to get yourself ready for the top level of golf,” he said. “The likes of Koepka, Hatton and Fleetwood and all the other guys who have come through this Tour and are now at the top. It’s an inspiration for myself and everyone else that is paying this year because we’re all trying to achieve pretty similar goals, and if we can follow in their footsteps we would be doing pretty well.”
Penge, who had a stellar amateur career - winning the Scottish Amateur Strokeplay Championship at just 15-years-old - is enjoying his time in South Africa and believes the bushveld courses are ideal for his game due to the distance he generates off the tee.
“The conditions out here suit my game,” he said. “After I played that first practice round last week, I thought to myself I should be playing out here all year. It suits the longer hitters out here and everything went to plan last week.
“It’s great to play with some of the South African guys and see their different approaches to the game. Everyone is so friendly over here, the place looks amazing and the course is in great condition. I’m here to enjoy myself and appreciate what I’m doing.”
Penge is joined in Limpopo by Road to Mallorca Number One JC Ritchie, who is eyeing his third Limpopo Championship victory in just four years following victories in 2019 and 2020. A victory for Ritchie in Limpopo would also secure him automatic promotion to the DP World Tour, after already recording two victories on the 2022 Road to Mallorca at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and Jonsson Workwear Open.
The Limpopo Championship will begin on Thursday March 31 at Euphoria Golf Club and Koro Creek Golf Club. The first round will begin at 7:00am local time, with Penge teeing it up at Euphoria Golf Club alongside Belgium’s Kristof Ulenaers and Welshman Stuart Manley at 11:40am.