JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – Germany’s Nick Bachem has often spent six weeks living out of a camper van and surfing in Portugal. He’s been on a safari in Kenya during a tournament, and last week he surfed at Jeffreys Bay for the first time. For a man who loves to try new things on tour, it’s probably no surprise that he pulled out a new driver for this week’s Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City, and it’s taken him to the top of the leaderboard.
Bachem’s 66 in Friday’s second round lifted him to 13 under par and a one-stroke lead over the field in this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event.
Frenchman Romain Langasque and Finland’s Sami Valimaki are his nearest challengers following their respective rounds of 64 and 65. And South Africa’s Martin Vorster and Ockie Strydom are in a group of players including Gavin Green, Kalle Samooja, Julien Brun and Marcel Schneider on 11 under going into the weekend. Strydom is hunting his third DP World Tour title in just over three months.
Bachem’s adventurous spirit has certainly worked for him this week on a golf course that’s forgiven him the odd miss with his new driver, and which he’s also made up for with an incredible short game.
“It’s the perfect course to try out a new driver because you can tee it high and let it fly, and just hit it as hard as you want to,” he said.
“I feel like when I try new stuff on tour it’s always a good experience and afterwards I find I’m happy I did it,” he added of his penchant for trying new things in the countries he visits.
“When you’re into surfing you’ve definitely heard about the Jeffreys Bay wave. It’s one of the most famous spots in the world. We stayed there for a tournament and I surfed every morning and afternoon. It was amazing. I like coming to South Africa. It feels like I spend more time here than in Germany. I also enjoy seeing so many great places and new people on tour. You get the chance to do stuff you would never do normally.”
Behind him, Vorster kept himself in contention with a 69 on Friday, and his place near the top of the leaderboard is fuelling his own growing confidence.
“The European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned events we had recently, starting with the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open where I finished fourth and then the SDC Open where I finished seventh, really gave me that confidence to know that I can compete against these players and that I have the game to win tournaments. I always knew I had the game but I didn’t always believe it, and that definitely gave me that self-belief,” he said.
As for Bachem, he heads into the weekend with yet another new experience that’s caught his eye here. “I went online and I saw there is a wave pool about one hour from here,” he said with a smile. “Maybe there’s a new surfing career waiting for me after my golf career.” – Michael Vlismas