A picture-perfect approach shot to inside 10 feet on the first play-off hole on Friday saw Andrew Curlewis win the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Parys Golf and Country Estate.
He missed the eagle putt, but with Lyle Rowe in deep trouble on the banks of the Vaal River, he only needed two putts to take his second Sunshine Tour title title in two weeks – and that after a wait of more than six years after his maiden win in the Vodacom Origins of Golf series at Arabella in April 2007.
“After I made par on 18 in regulation, I thought that was just one too many,” said Curlewis. “I thought I needed to get to eight-under to have a chance.”
But in the end, Rowe’s nerves slowed down his charge towards a maiden victory: He pulled his approach way left of the green in regulation on 18, and it was only a good creative chip, a delicate approach putt and then a solid par-saver which got him into the clubhouse level with Curlewis.
“Once I was in the play-off, I was fairly relaxed,” said Curlewis. “After all, the worst you can do is come second! And I hit two great shots to set myself up.”
Rowe, on the other hand, watched helplessly as his approach from the middle of the fairway flew right and landed on matted reeds and amongst rocks next to the river. He had no shot, so took a penalty drop, and pushed his par putt five feet past the hole – and all Curlewis had to do was hit his eagle attempt close.
“I feel for Lyle,” said Curlewis. “I have never lost in a play-off, so I can’t say I know what it feels like, but it can’t be great. His time will come. He had a great second round, and he will close the deal sometime soon now.”
Behind Curlewis and Rowe, Daniel Greene and Ulrich van den Berg shared third place after closing rounds of 70 and 71 respectively for a total of five-under-par 211 in the 54-hole tournament. Michael Hollick rounded out the top five with his closing 71 to finish a further stroke back.
It was a tough day, with Curlewis’ four-under-par 68 by far the best round in swirling windy conditions. “It was very difficult out there – really windy,” said Curlewis. “But once I got over my shaky start, I knew the windy conditions would be in my favour.”
The win boosted him to 18th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit – and while he’s too modest to say so, he’s positioning himself nicely for some strong performances in the looming Sunshine Tour summer schedule.