Merrick Bremner took his seventh Sunshine Tour victory in some of the toughest conditions he has ever encountered in tournament play on Friday when he carded a closing six-under 64 to win the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge by a single shot at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club.
He kept any semblance of a dropped shot off his card, making three birdies on each nine as his closest pursuers Keenan Davidse, Peter Karmis and Jacques Blaauw dropped four shots, four shots and one shot respectively four groups ahead of Bremner who had to wait close to an hour before he knew he had won.
“You know, I gave myself the right opportunities,” said Bremner. “We were never thinking about keeping bogeys off the card. We were just thinking about giving ourselves as many birdie opportunities as possible.”
And as simple as that sounds, doing it in strong wind is a difficult task. “It really started gusting quite hard towards the last 30 minutes of the round. It was brutal. I can’t explain it. If you mishit it just slightly, the ball just went nowhere. There were crosswinds that just accentuate any mistake you make. You had to be on top of your game and hit quality shots to make a score,” he said.
His last Sunshine Tour win came over a year ago in September 2019 when he won the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Humewood in Port Elizabeth. But before that, it was a pair of wins in 2016 that were the last to make their way onto his resume, so the wait has been something of a frustrating one for him.
Part of the time was spent trying to find a caddie, and that search has yielded the services of Zack Rasego, famed, of course for being on the bag of Louis Oosthuizen when he won the Open Championship in 2010.
The result of that partnership was plain to see in that final round, as Bremner carded the second-best round of the entire week in conditions that tested everyone. “I can’t even tell you how much his knowledge and expertise helped,” said Bremner. “The way he talks, the way he understands the game – it’s just unreal.
“He sent me an unbelievable message last night after I had finished the second round so badly. He said. ‘You’ve got all the goods, you’ve just got to produce them when it counts. It’s not about how you handle the tough finishes, it’s about you come back the next day.’ I can’t thank him enough.”
Prior to this week, Bremner had missed five cuts on the Sunshine Tour in his return to competitive golf. “The return to golf was a bit of a shock to me, to be honest,” he said. “During lockdown I was never entirely convinced that we would return to tournament golf this season. When the announcement came I felt almost a bit rushed and out of sorts.
“But lockdown was brilliant. It gave me time to recharge and reflect on life in general and how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love every single day. So I was in a good space mentally but in a confusing space physically and also golf was in a weird spot. I played loads of golf leading up to the rise up series but still was way under-prepared.”
So things have started looking up for Bremner. “My game is in a good place and I’m able to execute what I see with clarity,” he said. “Mind is definitely one of the most important factors in our sport, and having clarity allows one to produce to the best of one’s ability.”