Chris Swanepoel began his Sunday round five strokes shy of the lead, and would never have guessed he would end up with his first playoff win and the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open title.
ÂItÂs a fantastic feeling. I love playing out here on this fantastic course Â it has a lovely layout. ItÂs my first playoff win in three tries, and itÂs an incredible feeling,Â he said.
The 27-year-old fired on all cylinders on his way to the playoff, penciling in 10 birdies to reach 15-under-par and catch a faltering Trevor Fisher and then outdo him in a playoff.
ÂThis is a nice win,Â said Swanepoel. ÂAgainst Fisher Â heÂs a really good player and a good guy. I feel sorry for him, but unfortunately there can only be one winner, we canÂt split it.Â
The Pretoria residentÂs round carried only four pars, and was a spectacle to behold. He opened with four straight birdies and added another two before the turn. A double-bogey at the ninth set him back to six-under through the turn.
On the back nine he continued to dominate the parklands course, penciling birdies on either side of an eagle at the 12th. But then another double-drop at the par-three 15th seemed to spell heartbreak. But the 2011 Vodacom Origins Arabella winner brought back the dropped shots with birdies at the 16th and 18th.
While he waited in the clubhouse, Fisher was struggling to finish things, and a missed four-footer for par at the 18th left him tied with Swanepoel.
And so the playoff was set on the 18th. The first trip saw both players make pars, but on the second Fisher went left and into the trees with his tee-shot. Swanepoel made the green in regulation and put his birdie putt just a foot past the hole. Fisher, putting for par for 15 feet, failed box the long putt, which left the Pretoria player with a tap-in for victory.
Rookie Ruan de Smidt finished alone in third place at on 13-under-par, taking home a cool R103,800, while Colin Nel took fourth at nine-under.
Jean Hugo, Titch Moore and Justin Walters all came in at eight-under, finishing in a three-way tie for fifth.
Swanepoel was still shocked by the outcome, and happily added: ÂI thought today one of us might get up there, but I didnÂt think I was going to get into a playoff. I just decided to take it shot-by-shot, and the result is really great.Â