World One-Arm Match Play champion Reinard Schuhknecht is taking his cue from top wheelchair tennis ace Lucas Sithole and targeting success in the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open this May.
Schuhknecht was blown away by Sithole, who fought back from a set down to defeat world number one David Wagner for the quad singles title in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open on Sunday.
“It was an incredible performance from Lucas,” the 23-year-old Vanderbijlpark golfer said.
“Wagner beat him two years in a row and he was definitely the underdog going into the final, but he played with such determination and self-confidence. The American guy never had a chance after Lucas came back in the second set.
“I’ve taken a stab at the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open title since 2007 and I’ve come close twice, but I want to play with that kind of confidence and passion this year.
Schuhknecht is definitely on the radar after a superb season.
The South African claimed his third top five finish in the 2014 edition at Zebula in May last year and a week later, helped South Africa to a runner-up finish in the inaugural World Cup of Golf, despite playing with a wrist injury.
Widely regarded as one of South Africa’s brightest golfing prospects, Schuhknecht lived up to his top billing a month later in the 77th World One-Arm Match Play Championship.
Just 12 months after he won the Stroke Play Division and finished second in the Match Play, Schuhknecht defeated 2014 English & Welsh One-Arm champion Darren Grey from England in a play-off to lift the Match Play title.
The achievement earned Schuhknecht a spot on the European Team that whipped the United States in the Fightmaster Cup in September.
“My grandfather was German, so I qualified for the European Team as a dual passport holder,” Schuhknecht explained “The South African Disabled Golf Association encouraged me to play the event to further my international experience.”
The South African amassed 4.5 points out of a possible five in his singles and foursomes to help Europe to 21-7 victory in the biennial competition at Stirling Golf Club in Scotland.
“It was an unbelievable experience and I’m really happy I went,” Schuhknecht said. “I’ve always been a little daunted by the international players.
“Competing in the World One-Arm Championships and the Fightmaster Cup cured me of any doubts I had about my ability to challenge against the top players in the world.”
Schuhknecht lost out to Canadian Josh Williams last year, but believes that everything he has done and achieved over the last 12 months will carry him to the winner’s circle at Zwartkop Country Club from 3-8 May.
“Well, everything I’ve done and the local course knowledge,” he said. “I completed my PGA Diploma at the Dale Hayes Golf Academy over three years and I played hundreds of rounds at Zwartkop.
“For the last three months, I’ve been going to Zwartkop every two weeks. My coach Francois Viljoen and I are working on gaining more consistency with my swing and I am quite confident with how I am striking the ball at the moment.
Schuhknecht will face some tough opposition from three-time champions Daniel Slabbert and Iglin Grobbelaar and perennial challengers Charl Theron, Ben Van Zyl, James Hourigan and Conrad Stoltz.
“I’ve also been working through the Renegade Mental Golf series by Bill Gladwill,” he said.
“It deals with the mental approach and golf psychology. It worked for Tiger Woods in 2000 and I am learning a lot of things to improve my focus and mental strength. I am sure it’s going to work for me.”
With thanks to Lali Stander and Saga