Old magic from Adilson da Silva

golf06 December 2023 14:39
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Adilson Da Silva © Gallo Images

Adilson Da Silva is one of South Africa’s popular “boys from Brazil”, having come to settle in this country permanently at age 15. That was 36 years ago.

In 1994 this straight-down-the-middle golfer turned professional and went on to win 12 times on the Sunshine Tour, setting a record for consecutive cuts made – 43 – which is remarkable consistency.

Now, at 51, he’s campaigning on the Legends Tour (formerly European Seniors Tour) and he’s enjoyed an amazingly successful 2023 leading into this week’s season-ending $1-million MCB Tour Championship at the Belle Mare Plage Legends Course in Mauritius.

All the events on tour for the over 50 "golden oldies" are over 54 holes and in the last seven months he’s won four times – in Austria (15-under-par), in the Swiss Senior Open (also 15-under), in the French Senior Open (again 15-under) and finally last week in Vietnam (10-under).

That is some astonishing scoring – a cumulative 55-under-par for those four victories.

He has had more wins than any other senior in 2023 with England’s Peter Baker next best with three.

But, with several second-place finishes as against just one by Da Silva – Baker heads the 2023 Order of Merit by a small margin from the Brazilian-born man who now sees himself as “pretty much South African”.


So what has been the key to all the good golf?

“It’s what has been happening upstairs,” Da Silva says, pointing to his head – a reference to the fact that as the years have rolled by he’s becoming increasingly stronger mentally.

“I’m getting in my own way less these days. I don’t fight with myself on the course. I’m seeing things clearer. I know my own swing. And there’s been a snowball effect. You win one, and you get confident. You win two, more confident. And so it goes on and your confidence grows.”

South Africa’s 58-year-old James Kingston, who won the Order of Merit last year when Da Silva was rookie of the year, is lying third in the Order of Merit this year but cannot catch either Baker or Da Silva so this week it’s going to be a battle to the line between just the two of them.

And the short but extremely tight Legends Course should perfectly suit Da Silva who – his fellow pros say – has never missed a fairway in his 29 years as a professional.

That may be an exaggeration but the truth is that Da Silva is extremely straight off the tee-box and with water coming into play dangerously close to the fairways on all but one of the Legend course’s 18 holes, being up the middle will count for plenty from Thursday’s first round.

The tournament prize-money has been upped from €500 000 last year to $1-million this time so there’s plenty at stake with the equivalent of R3-million up for grabs for first place in the tournament itself, with extra cash on the line for Order of Merit honours.

After the tournament Da Silva – much liked and one of the game's true gentlemen – will return to his KZN Ballito home, to his wife, 10-year-old son and five-year-old twin girls.

He’s a family man who is one fine golfer and who may have been born in Brazil but who today very much considers South Africa his home.

He'll definitely be one of us if he wins on Sunday.