Christiaan Basson capped an extraordinary bogey-free week with a brilliant back nine of seven-under-par 29 on Sunday to close out a come-from-behind win in the Lombard Insurance Classic at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club.
“I have had a 29 in a professional round before,” said Basson, “but that didn’t count as it was when par was reduced to 31 or 32 in the Nelson Mandela Invitational in 2012 – so this is as well as I have ever played.”
He carded a 10-under-par 62 in the final round to race clear of overnight leader Jake Redman, finishing on 19-under-par 197 and five clear of Redman who made just one mistake in his closing round of three-under-par 69.
Redman shared second with Ruan de Smidt, who carded a 64, Adilson Da Silva who finished with a 65, and Neil Schietekat who closed in 68.
“Initially when you start any tournament, the plan is to go bogey-free but it doesn’t always work out that way,” said Basson. “Luckily I played really solid this week. I must say this was one of the best performances I’ve ever carded.”
He also said after his second round that he ‘almost’ made a bogey on 17 when his hit his second into the water, but he was able to scramble a par. “Once or twice in my final round I might have had to make a four- or five-footer to save par,” he said.
His round started with a birdie on the first and then two more on the fourth and fifth – and while three-under-par 33 is more than good enough, it gave no indication of the sustained scoring that was to come: Birdie on 10, eagle on 12, and then birdies on 13, 16, 17 and 18 saw him soar clear of Redman.
“That was just too good,” acknowledged Redman as he walked off the 18th.
Basson also said after his second round that he wasn’t going to do anything special in the final round, but was going to keep it simple and just try and make some putts.
So much for that: he two-putted only five times in his last round, and had just 23 putts in total – and that off the back of hitting just nine of 14 fairways in regulation and 14 of 18 greens.
It was his third victory on the Sunshine Tour, and his second at Royal Swazi Spa. His second title came when he won the Investec Royal Swazi Open in 2012, but his best effort that week was an eight-under-par 64.
He’s been with new coach Doug Wood for just three months. “It’s starting to pay dividends,” said Basson with characteristic understatement.