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Viljoen relishing the Leopard Creek lessons

1st December 2019

Viljoen relishing the Leopard Creek lessons

He goes into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek this morning in the company of a Masters champion, and MJ Viljoen will tackle the task with a relish born of confidence.

The 24-year-old from Bloemfontein has one win on the Sunshine Tour to his name, but with two top-10s to his name this season – including a runner-up finish in his last tournament – he’s clearly on an upward curve, and his three-under 69 in the third round at Leopard Creek in difficult conditions showed that very clearly.

“I’ve had a couple of good performances before, but they weren’t in big tournaments,” he noted. “But learning from those experiences and coming to the big tournaments knowing that I have been in a similar position before really does help.”

Learning as well as he has means he will be playing with Charl Schwartzel in the final round, a man who has won the Alfred Dunhill Championship four times and been runner-up four more. No doubt, Viljoen will be watching closely – and learning even more.

His win came back in September 2017, and he became a little frustrated at not pushing on to become a more dominating player. “I’ve been working with Hendrik Buhrmann from last year this time,” he said.

“I never had the knowledge of being a world-class golfer, you know, putting the club in the right position, hitting the ball in the right place and things like that. Just having that knowledge, and those little techniques – it really does help, especially the techniques around the golf course on any occasion.

“Talent can only take you so far, and having knowledge really does help a lot if you want to be a world-class player. The knowledge is becoming a natural thing now. I’m not over-thinking any more. I’m just playing and getting around the course with that knowledge.”

He’s showed he’s a quick study with his improving rounds of 72, 71 and 69 in increasingly difficult conditions seeing him climbing steadily up the leaderboard. At four-under for the tournament, he might be a long way off the lead which is at 11-under, but he knows that more improvement gives him every chance of getting into the mix.

“I did set myself a goal for about 12-under to give me a chance to maybe lift the trophy,” he said. “But the course is playing so tough, and the wind being up makes it tougher. So 12-under is not out of reach but you’ve got to hit the ball brilliantly to reach that score. I think I’ll revise my goals tonight and I only found my golf swing today, so I hope the fourth round is going to be the best round of the week.”

 

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