As victories go, Dawie van der Walt’s Tshwane Open victory is as good as it gets – he pockets over R2,7-million and earns European Tour exemption until the end of 2015.
“You can only imagine what it’s like to win such a big one. I don’t know what I’ll do yet. The purses are a lot bigger on the European Tour, so I’ll have to rethink some things,” he said.
The big man from Paarl reached an impressive 21-under-par total after four rounds at The Els Club Copperleaf, securing a two-stroke victory at the €1,5-million tournament.
“My goal was to shoot 10-under for the weekend, and my focus was reaching five-under for the round today. I’m just really happy that I played well and won, because you can play well and not win,” he said.
Not only was it the biggest win for the 30-year-old, but the cheque he took home was over R600,000 more than his total earnings on the Sunshine Tour. Having celebrated his birthday just three weeks ago, van der Walt was entering his golfing golden years with a victory.
“You start doubting yourself and at 30 years old you start to wonder if you’re good enough, and this proves that I am. I would have liked to win before 30, but I’ll definitely take this! Golf is a game where you don’t get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic,” he said.
There were several pivotal moments during the Sunday round, not least of which was a putt for birdie on the 12th, which took van der Walt back into the lead.
“It was a big turning point when I made that putt on 12, because I was just trying to make another birdie to get to five-under, and once it dropped I felt like I was in control,” he said.
While he retained the lead all the way to trophy, the nerves definitely sparked up when he teed off on the last hole.
“The 18th was the second fairway I missed the whole day, and I had to breathe and relax when I got to my approach. I hit a really good second shot, especially considering that I had to give it a little bit less because of the adrenalin,” he said.
Darren Fichardt, fresh off his win at the Africa Open a fortnight ago, shot a final round 69 to finish in sole second. The Pretoria local included a Thursday 65 and Saturday 64 into his tournament total of 19-under-par.
Louis de Jager began the final round with a double-bogey, but recovered incredibly well and went on the card 69 and take hold of sole third. The 25-year-old plays out of The Els Club Copperleaf and showed the benefit of local knowledge, carding three rounds in the 60s during the week.
Former world number one amateur Peter Uihlein finished fourth on 17-under-par, and was followed by Bjorn Akesson, Danny Willett and Charl Coetzee, who shared third on 16-under-par.