Sport - Golf - Cameron Van Rooyen
Cameron Van Rooyen alongside Akram Skaik Image Credit: Harry Grimshaw, Gulf News

It always surprises me how quickly the cut seems to come around in a 72-hole tournament week and over half the field are already on their way ‘home,’ with no money earned.

I am impressed with all the different backgrounds and parts of the world that participate on the Challenge Tour. This week there are players from 15 countries in the top 40! The growth of the game at an elite level over the last 20 years makes a good read.

The top players always seem to be able to get it around – even when they are perhaps not at their best and in tough conditions.

This is a lesson for all of us including all amateurs at the golf clubs around the UAE.

As Ben Hogan, one of the greats of the game said, ‘A good round of golf is if you can hit about three shots that turn exactly as you planned them.’ Perhaps most of us all strive to hit all or most of our shots perfectly. At the elite level the game of golf is more about the mental approach and to minimize the misses.

The leader has had two bogeys in 36 holes, the lowest number in the top 15 of the field along with Road to Mallorca Order of Merit leader Ugo Coussard. Second placed Manuel Elvira has amassed seven bogeys already in two days.

Congratulations to Liam Johnston and Craig Howie for breaking the course record with a six under par 66 in the second round. To shoot the lowest score of anyone in history on such a challenging facility as well as mindful of all the top players who have played the Gary Player layout over the years since it opened in March 2010 is a fine achievement.

One of my takes for the first couple of days is that I was surprised that in the first round, players who teed off at 1.45 pm in the afternoon in three-balls could only complete 17 holes in five hours and a bit.

It is acknowledged that it was playing tough in the windy conditions and it is a long walking course, designed primarily for cart golf, but it is my opinion five hours should be enough to get the 156 player field around the course. Better news on the pace of play for round two.

I will be around for the weekend at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and look forward to walking around with the leaders on Sunday morning in the final round.

Cameron is a 33 year-old South African who has worked as a Golf Coach in South Africa, Kuwait, Malaysia and Singapore who is the UAE National Coach based at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and arrived in the UAE in January, 2023.