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23rd August 2023

Barker bringing Major lessons to Bain’s Whisky Ubunye Championship

PRETORIA (23 August 2023) – After experiencing his first taste of Major championship golf at The Open this year, Kyle Barker has returned to the Sunshine Tour determined to use every bit of that experience and to play his way back onto that stage again.

Barker looked as relaxed as ever walking around a sun-drenched Pretoria Country Club on Wednesday in the pro-am ahead of Thursday’s first round of the Bain’s Whisky Ubunye Championship.

It’s a month since he qualified for his first Major – The Open at Royal Liverpool. 

“My goal was to play my first Major at the age of 30. To achieve that five years earlier than I expected is a dream come true. It was unbelievable. It was better than I’d ever dreamt it would be,” said Barker.

It’s a different approach this week as the Sunshine Tour professionals compete in a team format involving betterball and foursomes, and Barker has the experienced Ulrich van den Berg as his partner.

“I’m playing with Ulrich who is probably one of the best iron players I’ve ever seen. It’s a fun week this. It frees you up a bit to go for shots you wouldn’t normally go for because you’ve got a partner to count on,” said Barker.

That freedom combined with his experience at The Open could prove a potent combination, and Barker produced his trademark smile as he reflected on what playing in a Major has done for his mindset.

“What I learnt was just unbelievable. Watching the top professionals and how they work and structure everything around their rounds was incredible. I watched Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas to name a few. It was eye-opening to see how they go to work on the course, but perhaps more importantly off the golf course and just how hard they work.

“They go to gym twice a day, they stretch, they go through their routines, and they work so closely with their entire teams. I’ve definitely taken what I learnt from there and started to apply it to my daily routines. Having that experience in a Major just makes me believe in myself even more when I come back to the Sunshine Tour.”

The team format this week is certainly something the Sunshine Tour professionals are looking forward to.

“It’s a really fun format with the betterball and the foursomes,” said James Hart du Preez, who is paired with Rupert Kaminski and who knows this course exceptionally well having grown up on these fairways.

“This course plays probably two to three shots more difficult in winter. The greens get very firm here. The tricky aspect of this course is that it looks like it’s right there in front of you but if you get out of position it can bite you because you’re left with a bunch of tricky chip shots around these greens.”

And Dylan Naidoo is also looking forward to a fun week with partner Keenan Davidse.

“It’s a fun challenge deciding on the different strategies for betterball and foursomes. And this is such a nice golf course. It’s always in great condition and you need to have your strategy on point for this week.” – Michael Vlismas