It took six years and four months, but Andrew Curlewis finally won his second Sunshine Tour title when he took the R600,000 Wild Waves Golf Challenge at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club on Thursday.
“It was some of the best golf I have played in years,” he said of the victory which moved him to 21st on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit after 15 tounrnaments.
He carded a final round five-under-par 65 on the 5,807-metre par-70 layout for a final total of 16-under-par 194 to hold off Desvonde Botes and Titch Moore by one stroke.
“It was tough to keep the belief over the last few years,” said Curlewis. “There have been lots of downs, and some ups, but my mom and dad, my girlfriend Tammy, other friends – they have kept me going.”
When asked how he felt. Curlewis said, “Just relief. It’s been a few long years, so to give myself a chance and then hold the others off coming down the last three holes feels very special.”
He carded rounds of 66-63-65 for his win. “I played fantastically all week,” he said, “only making one bogey in the first round, which is always helpful.”
With three contenders who were each years away from their last victory, it was always going to be a tight affair in the final group.
“I was always one or two behind the guys, when I managed to get my nose in front just in time and keep it there,” he said.
Moore and Botes faltered first with a bogey each on the first hole. But it didn’t give Curlewis too much of an advantage as he was only able to make his first birdie of the day on the seventh hole. After that, it became a war of attrition, with no-one willing – or able – to make mistakes, and each of them searching for every single opportunity they could find to make birdies.
Botes broke out of the deadlock at the 14th. The 401-metre par-four was the third-most difficult hole of the tournament, and Botes continued his trend of hitting his approaches close for a birdie which took him to 15-under-par heading down the stretch.
Then Curlewis struck back with a birdie on 15 as Botes let it slip with a bogey, and the tables had been turned. And the Margate professional pressed home the advantage with a second consecutive birdie on 16 to stretch into a two-stroke lead with two to play.
It got a little nerve-racking on the 18th, as first Botes sank a 30-footer to move within one, and then Moore followed his birdie on 17 with another on 18 to join Botes.
“I didn’t feel nervous walking onto the 18th, because I didn’t think both of them would make those putts,” said Curlewis. “But then I left myself about 18 inches for par and the win, and it wasn’t on the side of the hole I would have preferred for that kind of pressure.”
But it went in and Curlewis breathed a sigh of relief as he took a win he thought might not come.