GRIP-it-and-rip Anthony Michael will be carrying Randpark’s hopes in this week’s Joburg Open, and knows that a win would be “life-changing” for him.
In his 11-year stint as a tournament professional Michael has played well enough to earn R5,3-million in prize-money with his best finish in a European Tour event co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour being third place in the 2016 Tshwane Open.
The Joburg Open is also co-sanctioned and with a sizeable purse of 1-million euros – not far off R20-million – victory not only ensures a big bag-full of cash, but earns for the winner a two-year exemption on the European Tour and that is priceless.
Michael does not have a European Tour card but he has done well on the Sunshine Tour and this year he is 27th on the Order of Merit. Not bad going at all on a very competitive tour. But a win for him this week will indeed be life-changing.
The 34-year-old former hot-shot baseball player says all the recent rain the club has received could result in low scores. “But,” he warns, “That’s only if you can keep the ball on the fairway.” A soft, well-maintained course allows for more control and it’s easier to play “target golf” knowing the ball will land on the green and invariably stop quickly. “On the other hand,” he adds, “it looks like the rough is going to be pretty severe after all the rain so if you don’t keep the ball on the fairway your score could go the other way fast,” he exclaimed.
Michael praised the club’s greens staff for putting on what should be a superb Firethorn for the tournament. “It’s already looking great so all tribute to the guys,” he said.
Previous Joburg Opens, first at Royal Johannesburg before the event switched to Randpark, were played on two courses (at Randpark on Bushwillow as well as Firethorn) with extra large fields. But this year’s tournament will be restricted to Firethorn with a 156-man line-up which is the norm.
Michael was introduced to golf at just three years old by his father and grandfather but played all the sports, and as a youngster achieved provincial colours for soccer and national colours for baseball.
“I played baseball for South Africa at age-group level for two years, and even went to Japan. I dreamed about being a big star and playing for the New York Yankees. But the sport kind of died in South Africa so I decided golf was the way to go,” he said.
So, after representing Central Gauteng at Under-16 and under-18 level, he landed a scholarship to Oklahoma City University in 2005, graduating with a degree in Business Administration. Golf-wise, he made great strides and won five collegiate events during his four years in America before joining the paid ranks.
Hopefully now a hot “home run” awaits him this week.
Written by Randpark member Grant Winter.