Eikenhof – It might have happened a year ago, but defending champion of the Eye of Africa PGA Championship, Matias Calderon, still remembers his break-through win which came during his rookie season as if it happened yesterday.
“That feeling was unbelievable, to be honest,” he said. “I was always in a tough spot and I didn’t really have that good of a season and to be able to pull off the way I pulled off, the way it came, it was pretty cool.”
This week, he has every opportunity to become the first player to successfully defend the title in the last decade, after Louis Oosthuizen who won it in 2007 and 2008.
“Honestly, every win even if you are defending or not or if its two years in a row or not, every win is special,” he said. “I will always try and give it a go and try to play my best. If my best is good enough, I would be more than happy.”
Calderon knows that he would have to work even harder to achieve that mile and he says he is leaving no stones unturned in terms of preparation.
“I am working on a little bit of everything at the moment. I took a few weeks off after the Alfred Dunhill Championship. So, I am just being back on it. Obviously, the game is a bit rusty now, but I am just going to go out there and do my best and see what happens.”
He plans to use his experience of the course to score low when he navigates Eye of Africa Signature Golf Estate, a golf course he says he likes.
“I think this is a pretty all-round course. You have to be fairly straight even though the fairways are wide,” he said. “If you miss, you are in trouble. So, there is a little bit of everything. If putting comes into play, you can make a lot of birdies. I love this course. It’s a beautiful place and I am really looking forward to this week.”
With the new rules came in effect this month, the 27-year-old thinks he will manage to make some adjustments.
“I don’t think any of the new rules will give me problem, but it is definitely quite different to be able to play. For example, to be able to fix the spike marks. I haven’t played competitive golf, obviously, this year and so it is going to be different. But new rules are rules at the end of the day and who ever plays the best golf is going to win.”
Calderon would not let the fact that he finished the year in good form – he finished 21st at the South African Open and 34th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship – deceive him.
“I hope that would give me a bit of confidence this week, but those tournaments were a month back,” he said.
“I felt like my game was in a good spot then, and, hopefully I can keep it up. I don’t think it will give me any special confidence for now, but I feel definitely in a good spot and that my game has improved a bit. I will just try to play my best and see what happens.”