Cool Vorster ready to tee off at Joburg Open unfussed by looming heatwave

22 November 2023 - 16:10
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Martin Vorster in action at the Swiss Challenge in Folgensbourg in September.
Martin Vorster in action at the Swiss Challenge in Folgensbourg in September.
Image: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

The highveld sun gave Joburg Open competitors a foreboding burst of heat on Wednesday, blazing disdainfully through the clouds that bubbled across the early afternoon sky, but Martin Vorster remained cool. 

“This is still fine,” said the 21-year-old who will tee off on Thursday at the Houghton golf club where temperatures are expected to travel well north of 30 degrees for the full duration of the tournament that ends on Sunday.

“I’ve spent some time in Texas with my girlfriend. I was over there for four weeks and this would be a very cold day in their summer. It gets like 45 degrees and high humidity.”

Vorster’s name is one of those that comes up when talking about the hot prospects produced through the GolfRSA national squad.

“I grew up playing with Garrick Higgo, Wilco Nienaber, Casey Jarvis, Deon Germishuys and there were plenty more guys. We had a very strong group and I think that’s why we kept on pushing each other.

The 2023 Joburg Open is set to make history as it kicks off the DP World Tour's new Opening Swing on the Sunshine Tour. Taking place at the prestigious Houghton Golf Club from November 23 to 26, this co-sanctioned tournament promises a world-class field and exciting incentives for professional golfers.

“That’s why some of them have gone on to play on the biggest stage and win on the biggest stage.”

Higgo, who already has three wins on the DP World Tour and one on the PGA Tour, is not in action this week, but the rest of them are, including Jarvis, who ended second on the 2023 Challenge Tour.

“I'm very excited to see how South Africa golf is going to look in the next five to 10 years on the biggest tours in the world,” added Vorster, who can drive the ball 320m through the air at altitude, or 280m at the coast.

“It's very encouraging to see because those are guys we competed with on a weekly basis. I mean, I've beaten Garrick before, I've beaten Casey before, and they've obviously made it to main tours and competed on main tours.”

Vorster, who grew up in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, has had some decent showings since turning professional two years ago, earning nearly R1.2m on the Sunshine Tour and enjoying a few top-five finishes.

But the key to playing in DP World Tour co-sanctioned events like the Joburg Open was not fixating on the rise in prestige.

“It is obviously a big tournament, and there's more money, there's more ranking points, and a good week this week can change your life.

“But I think just keeping the preparation the same is important. Every player this week is here to win.”

Vorster works with a team that includes a coach, fitness trainer and psychologist and on Wednesday he revisited his pre-shot routine, aiming to slow down the process slightly.

“I tend to get quick under pressure, so I would get quick with my looks, or I won't pick a specific target, or I'll get too rushed in the process …

“Today, he told me, ‘the process is good, just take it two seconds longer’.”

Vorster said he had learned to toughen up on the Challenge Tour, the feeder for the DP World Tour. On a couple of occasions his golf clubs arrived a day after he did, and on one occasion in the Czech Republic he had a language battle proving he had booked a hotel room.

Vorster, who as an amateur won the African amateur strokeplay championship at Leopard Creek and the East of Ireland championship, met girlfriend Ellie Szeryk at the 2018 Junior World Cup in Japan.

She’s still at college though her older sister Maddie plays on the LPGA Tour.

He’ll be joining her family for Christmas this year. “She's been in South Africa the last two years, so it's my turn to go over there.”

For now he’s content to wait his turn to shine on the professional tours.

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