Wilco impresses during PGA Tour debut

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Wilco Nienaber PHOTO: CARL FOURIE/ SUNSHINE TOUR

The 21-year-old Bloemfontein golfer, Wilco Nienaber, has made his debut on the PGA Tour in the USA during the past week where he finished in a tie for 14th at the Palmetto Championship in South Carolina. Nienaber entered the tournament on the highly lucrative tour by special invite and he immediately impressed.

The Free Stater has already established himself as the longest driver on the European Tour, and now he has gained that title on the PGA Tour as well by dethroning the big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau. There is no question as to the golfing ability of DeChambeau, however, if one had to compare their driver swings to a boxer’s punch, Nienaber’s will resemble that of the right cross of Muhammad Ali, while DeChambeau’s will be more in line with a punch by the slugger, Eric “Butterbean” Esch.

While the tournament was won by the other South African golfing sensation, Garrick Higgo, Nienaber did find himself within the top four of the Palmetto Championship at times. He will, however, be happy with his performance on debut, especially with the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines this week. Nienaber will be teeing it up at the US Open and this will be his debut in a major as well.

Nienaber admits that the experience in the USA is different to what he is used to, but he is ultimately happy with his debut.

“The experience is pretty new. When I got to the registration, I didn’t know what to do. So, that was a little different to me. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to have been able to play.

“It makes me really excited. What I did that last few days makes me pleased. I grew up watching the PGA Tour and it’s really where I want to be. It’s really nice to have been able to start off the way I did.”

The 121st US Open at Torrey Pines tees off on Thursday. – MORGAN PIEK