'Retired' Wessels back in the swing

'Retired' Wessels back in the swing at PGA National Champs

Michael Vlismas

GEORGE (12 May 2015) - Former European Tour and Sunshine Tour professional Roger Wessels showed his experience with a round of one-under-par 71 to place him only one stroke off the first-round lead in the PGA National Championship presented by Diners Club at Oubaai Golf Club on Tuesday.

The 54-year-old Wessels, a nine-time winner during his career as a touring professional on the Sunshine Tour and including the 1991 SA PGA Championship, is chasing the shared two-under-par lead of Gauteng's Marius Mizen and the Western Cape's Blanche Lamprecht.

Lamprecht took advantage of the driveable par-four eighth and hit a three-wood to one foot for an eagle. He turned four under but then bogeyed 14 and 15.

Mizen's place at the top of the leaderboard reflects the overall improvement in his game, which has seen him climb to second place on the national Order of Merit.

But Wessels certainly surprised with his start to this 54-hole tournament, considering that he retired from playing the game competitively in 2003 and instead works as the Director of Golf at the KeNako Golf and Sports Academy in George.

"It's such a long time since I played a tournament and I am very happy with this opening round," he said.

"I only play about once a month now, and I still love it. But my drive and passion is with the academy, so I don't get much time to play, which makes this score all the more surprising. There were some interesting pin placements and some long holes out there, and I didn't hit the ball particularly well. But I just managed to get around because I know the course."

Ahead of him, Mizen has everything to play for over the next two days and admits a victory in the premier event for the PGA professionals of South Africa would be the highlight of his career. The winner here will go on to represent South Africa at the PGA Professional Championship of Europe in Bulgaria in October.

"I've been climbing up the Order of Merit quite nicely, but to win here and represent SA at the European Championship would show I can play with the big boys, and maybe later go on to play on the tour. This would show me that I can compete," said the 27-year-old from Benoni.

Gauteng's Kenneth Dube is only two shots off the lead, while the experienced Michael du Toit, Dave Usendorff, Richard Kaplan and Paul Marks are all three strokes behind.

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