Former dairy farmer Greene hunting glory in Telkom PGA Championship

2010-02-18 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The Telkom PGA Championship tees off at Country Club Johannesburg today with an impressive list of former champions, and a one-time manager of a dairy farm who recently rediscovered that he’s actually pretty good at golf.

The 24-year-old Daniel Greene heads into today’s first round of South Africa’s second-oldest professional tournament as the leading rookie on the Sunshine Tour, following his third-place finish in last week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am.

“It’s a pretty comfortable place to be,” admits the golfer who once so hated the game that he abandoned it for four years.

“After Grade Nine I went to a golf academy and all I did was golf, golf, golf for eight hours every day,” says Greene. “I just had enough of the game and gave it up for four years.”

In that time, Green travelled overseas, helped out on his parents’ dairy farm in Nottingham Road in KwaZulu-Natal, and generally did his best not to even think about golf.

“Then one day a friend asked if I wanted to join him for a round at Gowrie Farm Golf Club. After not touching a club for four years, I went out and shot one under. So I thought I’d take it up again.”

He returned to competitive golf and was a member of the winning KwaZulu-Natal Country Districts team last year, and was voted the Most Valuable Player at the 2009 Inter-provincial at Durban Country Club.

A top eight finish at the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School earned him his tour card, and he made an immediate impact when he won the qualifying tournament for the Africa Open in January. However, he failed to make an impact in the tournament, or in the Joburg Open the week after.

But the Dimension Data Pro-Am proved his big breakthrough.

“At least I don’t have to worry about keeping my card now and I can just play my own game,” he said.

Standing in the way of Greene and a fairytale victory in this week’s Telkom PGA Championship is a field including defending champion Jaco van Zyl, double winner Louis Oosthuizen, multiple European Tour winner Richard Sterne, and several other top contenders in Thomas Aiken, Branden Grace, James Kamte and Trevor Fisher Jnr.

And there is also a Woodmead course that is expected to provide a tough challenge following another deluge of rain.

“The course is definitely harder than last year,” said Van Zyl, who added to the folklore of this tournament when he made an unlikely birdie from a rose bed alongside the 18th green to claim the biggest victory of his career here last year.

“The rough isn’t that long, but it’s very thick. So you’re going to have to hit some quality shots this week.”

 

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