Win at last for KZN’s Nel

2014-09-02 00:00

HE’S been playing Sunshine Tour golf since 2009, but Pietermaritzburg’s Colin Nel had to wait until 2014 for his first tour victory.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time — the 30-year-old triumphing in his home province with a three-shot win at the Wild Waves Golf Challenge at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club.

Nel had strung together a pair of 65s in the opening two rounds of the tournament and went into Friday’s final round confident of holding onto his lead. But he didn’t have to worry about that as a ghastly wind saw play called off for the day and Nel was victorious.

It is a defining moment in the Carter High School old boy’s career, and he is now guaranteed a tour card for the rest of 2014 and 2015.

“That helps,” he told The Witness yesterday. “It means that I can go out there and just play, without that extra burden of securing a tour card always on my mind.”

After five years on the Tour, Nel was cool about finally getting off the mark.

“It’s a relief whenever you win a golf tournament,” he said.

The long-term plan for Nel is to force his way onto the more lucrative European Tour, but he remains level-headed about his chances and chooses instead to focus on what is directly in front of him.

“I think that if I can have a strong finish to this year and then another strong year in 2015 then I will be in a position to give Q-school [European Tour qualifying school] a go,” he said.

Nel is still based in Pietermaritzburg, where he is a member of Maritzburg Golf Club, but he is eyeing a permanent move up to Johannesburg in the near future. That won’t change the way he views the “good old Sleepy Hollow”, though.

“I’m very comfortable in PMB. I have my family and friends here and I still play the course [MGC] on Wednesdays and whenever I have a Saturday off,” he said. “It feels like home whenever I play there and that won’t change.”

His time in PMB came either side of a four-year-long stay in Oklahoma City, where he played College golf between 2005 and 2009.

“That definitely gave me the grounding and it set me up really well,” said Nel of his time in the U.S. “College golf is on another level and I was very fortunate to be a part of it and play the courses I played.”

He may be flying high right now, but Nel doesn’t have much time to enjoy being a Sunshine Tour champion. His attention must immediately turn to this weekend’s Vodacom Origins of Golf series event — also taking place at the Wild Coast Sun.

“I suppose it does help that I have just won a tournament there [Wild Coast],” said Nel. “I can go into this week with a lot of confidence but it is important not to get carried away. I am feeling really good but it is a different competition and I will have to play really well.”

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