Historic hat-trick beckons Martin

Pablo Martin will have an historic hat-trick staring him in the face when he tees off at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Spain’s Pablo Martin will have an historic hat-trick staring him in the face when he tees off at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the Leopard Creek this week.

Martin has dominated this event over the past two years, last year achieving a notable first when he became the championship’s only back-to-back winner.

The Spaniard won by two strokes with his 11-under par total, beating Charl Schwartzel, who, a few months later, would win a Masters Green Jacket, as well as Thorbjorn Olesen and Anthony Michael.

In 2009 he also beat Schwartzel, on that occasion by one stroke.

Martin won’t have the chance of beating Schwartzel again this week.

The South African star will be in Melbourne playing for Greg Norman’s International Team at the Presidents Cup, but the rare hat-trick that beckons, should nevertheless be a spur to a man who seems to enjoy making history.

The affable Spaniard initially did it when he became the first amateur to win a European Tour event at the 2007 Estoril Open de Portugal. He was a college student in the USA at the time.

Earlier as a 17-year-old he had also became the first amateur to lead a European Tour event through 54 holes, this in the Canaris Open de Espana in 2003 where he went on to finish 22nd.

His season this year has been less spectacular, yet the fact that it has been highlighted by a second-place finish at the Volvo China Open in April and fourth place in the Nordea Masters in July is a clear indication that the form that made him last year’s Alfred Dunhill champion hasn’t disappeared.

Without Schwartzel, and, for that matter, fellow high profile South African golfers Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who will also be playing in the Presidents Cup, Martin’s most likely local opposition could come from European Tour winner Thomas Aiken and rising Tour stars George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl who have both yet to win on the European Tour, but have occupied top 10 places on the Tour’s leaderboard on a fair number of occasions this season.

Aiken will have the memory of his maiden European Tour victory at the Open de Espana as well as an impressive record in the Alfred Dunhill Championship to feed his confidence.

He finishing fifth on the highly-rated, Gary Player-designed bush veldt course at Leopard Creek last year and tied for fourth in 2008.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship is the first of the four up-coming tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine and European Tours and is being played in the same week as the European and Asian Tours’ co-sanctioned Iskandar Johor Open at Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club in Johor, Malaysia, to help the European Tour make adjustments to it’s future schedule