Thursday, 27 November 2014

Enoch targets strong finish in the Sunshine

FORMER Welsh amateur international Rhys Enoch is targeting a strong end to the year in order to hit the ground running in 2015, WRITES CARL FIELD.

Rhys Enoch

Enoch, 26, who gained his eligibility to play for Wales because his father hailed from the Gower, is currently in South Africa competing on the Sunshine Tour.

He warmed up for the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open – which started today (Thursday) – with victory in Monday’s pre-qualifier.

Three straight birdies ahead of the turn paved the way for his four-under par 68 and left him two shots clear of nearest challenger Mervyn Galant.

Enoch, who plays out of Celtic Manor, is starting to find form again after an injury-plagued last few months as he aims to end 2014 – a year that saw him qualify for his first major – with a flourish.

In what has been an up and down year for Enoch, he qualified for the Open Championship at Hoylake in July with a stunning performance in a dramatic three-way play-off at Woburn.

And, while he didn’t make the cut at Hoylake, it was still an emotional week for Enoch, who was spurred on by the memory of younger brother Ben – also a talented golfer – who was tragically killed in a car crash on his way to the Lytham Trophy in 2009.

The connection to Hoylake and the Enoch brothers all stemmed back to 2006 when Ben – two years Rhys’ junior - went to witness the Open and, after sharing his experience with his older brother, the pair would often say ‘this putt is for the Claret Jugg’ while playing golf with one another.

“Obviously the highlight of my year was qualifying for the Open, it’s what everyone dreams of,” said Rhys.

“The first tee shot at the Open was incredible. I had been mentally rehearsing it all week before I went to bed, and I got there and I felt so calm.

“It was a special week for me – what with the Hoylake connection to my little brother – and it was an experience that will stand me in good stead in the future.”

Having been hampered by a shoulder injury since the end of July, Enoch has been stepping up his recovery with some decent performances in the South Wales PGA events.

After finishing fourth at Newport on October 22, Enoch followed that up with an excellent victory at Pennard a week later, carding a four-under par 68 to win by three shots.

He said: “Those two events were a great way for me to compete and test my shoulder out against some good local pros.

“Pennard was very nice – I played great and it’s always nice to pick up little wins wherever possible.”

On the challenges that lie ahead, Enoch said: “I feel my game is getting back to where it was and I’m looking to play well this week and get another four rounds under my belt.

“I then head up to Turkey for the Beko Pro-Am (Dec 4-6), where I have done well the previous two years.

“Then it’s back to Pretoria for the Alfred Dunhill Championship qualifier (Dec 9) and, if all goes to plan, playing in that (Dec 11-14) before heading home for Christmas.

“I’m already high enough in the Sunshine Tour Order Of Merit to keep my card for 2015, so it’s about playing the minimum number of events (seven) so that I stay there at the end of the year.

“Playing this week and then at the Alfred Dunhill qualifier will mean I’ll achieve that.

“I’m mid-70s on the OOM and It would be really nice to have a couple of good weeks and get myself into the top 50.

“My ultimate goal in 2015 will be gaining a European Tour card through the qualifying school – while I also aim to win on either the Challenge Tour or Sunshine Tour.

“I am due a win and my game is more than good enough. If I can stay fit and healthy, I feel I will get over the line, sooner rather than later.”


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