Jaco Ahlers cruised past PH McIntyre 5&3 on Saturday to win the second semi-final of the R2-million ISPS Handa South African Match Play Championship at Zwartkop Country Club.
His impressive performance set up a mouth-watering final with Doug McGuigan, who was equally impressive in his semi-final defeat of Merrick Bremner 5&3.
ÂIÂm surprised myself,Â an elated Ahlers said. ÂI played really well this afternoon Â really, really well. IÂve just been hitting it better and better every day. I got some distances right this afternoon, and everything just worked out. I putted nicely; I hit that ball so well off the tee, itÂs not even funny.Â
He didnÂt get the fast start he got in his quarter-final in the morning when he made three birdies Â he lost the first to McIntyre after his drive found a fairway trap Â but after a string of five consecutive halves, he turned the screw with six wins in nine holes to wrap up the match by the 15th.
ÂAfter the loss of the first hole, I was hitting it well, I was putting well,Â he said, Âso I knew it was going to come, and in this game, youÂve got to wait for it. You canÂt push it or itÂs not going to happen.Â
He won two in a row on seven and eight, and when he and McIntyre landed inches apart on the ninth, he took a read from McIntyreÂs putt and they both got it wrong for the half.
But Ahlers was ruthless over the next three holes, stretching the lead to 4-up before delivering the coup-de-grace on 15 with a 10-foot birdie putt after McIntyre had missed his own 10-footer from the other side of the pin.
While McGuigan was as dominant as he was, Ahlers is not intimidated at the prospect of facing him in the final. ÂItÂs exciting,Â he said. ÂItÂs going to be a tough battle, because DougieÂs probably one of the most solid players you could wish to find on the Sunshine Tour.Â
Through the words of respect, it was apparent that Ahlers is confident in what he will bring to the final. ÂIf I play like I did today, itÂs going to be a very good battle. IÂm just going to keep on playing like IÂm playing,Â he said. ÂIÂll hit my shots where I want to and I donÂt really think about what the other guyÂs doing.Â