Marco Penge’s return to Zebula Golf & Spa Estate has brought back heartwarming memories ahead of this week’s SDC Open, the third of four co-sanctioned events between the European Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Last year’s SDC Open marked the Sussex golfer’s return to competitive golf following an eight-month injury lay-off and started a season which culminated in a 39th-place finish on the Road to Mallorca Rankings in his first full European Challenge Tour campaign. Now, with a year’s experience under his belt, the Englishman is enjoying life out on the road and in particular at the Limpopo venue.
“This is a pretty special place for me,” said Marco, 24, who turned pro in 2017. “This was my return from being injured for eight months so, so coming back here, it has a special place in my heart really. To have one of my best results on the Challenge Tour at this venue, it’s always nice to come back to somewhere you know you’ve played great.
“This is the third week on the schedule. The first week I finished 50th, which wasn’t too bad a week considering we don’t get to play much golf in England during the winter months, so the first week was pretty successful, I played pretty well. Last week I missed the cut, but playing at Fancourt was a great experience and I thought the event itself was great to be playing with the amateurs.
“I feel like my game isn’t actually that far away, just a bit of rust in there to shake off. I’m going to try and play two practice rounds this week to try and get my feel back after not playing much golf in the winter. It’s just great to be back here at a place where you know you’ve played well and we’ll have to see how it goes.”
Penge was pleased to be able to spend some time at home in Sussex with his family over the off-season but is now both excited and humbled to be on the road once more.
“I think spending some time with the family over Christmas and the New Year, us guys who are out here every week travelling the world, we appreciate the time we have at home with our families as it doesn’t come around that much,” he said. “We’re all buzzing to be back out playing and coming to South Africa, being from England, is just awesome so we can’t complain. Not many people can say they’ve played a round of golf in the wild. It’s awesome to see the wildlife out here, going back to back home, we don’t really get that, we get a few squirrels and things like that. To see zebras and giraffes, it’s something you can’t take for granted and appreciate how lucky we are.”
The action from the SDC Open will get underway in South Africa at 6.30 am local time, with Penge teeing it up alongside France’s Ugo Coussaud and 2022 SDC Open runner-up Ruan Conradie.