Leopard Creek not such a hard place for Rock

Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:49pm EST
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By Michael Todt

MALELANE, South Africa (Reuters) - Soft greens and creepy crawlies have failed to diminish Robert Rock's confidence as he goes into the Alfred Dunhill Championship looking for another good week at a course where he once shot a 61.

The Englishman has finished outside the top 20 just once in his last five appearances at Leopard Creek Golf Club, with the early weeks of the European Tour season seemingly to his liking.

"I feel like this is a place where, if I continue to play tournaments for the rest of my career, I like to think I'd win this at some point," Rock told Reuters ahead of Thursday's tee-off.

"I've had two seconds and I don't think I've finished far outside the top 20 here. It's always been a pretty good place to me. I've generally played well at the start of the year and I tend to always play OK in South Africa, so it all adds up to making this a place where I expect to do well at."

Hot conditions have been synonymous with the event and every year the course produces some of the fastest greens on the Tour.

However, the Mpumalanga province has had its share of rain in recent weeks and one of the talking points in the build-up has been the softness of the course.

"The greens were quite soft - they're normally a little firmer than that. There's a lot of slope on them and a general grain, which follows the slope. You have to keep an eye on that because it makes the six to 10 foot putts quite tricky, and you can have a lot of break on them," Rock said.

"The greens can be really, really quick but they don't look very quick at the moment. I'm not sure how quickly that can dry them out but we'll see."   Continued...

Robert Rock of England plays a shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club January 29, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown