Daniel Hammond came away with the victory after trumping Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a sudden-death showdown on the 18th of The Els Club, Copperleaf.
“I’m very chuffed with the win,” said Hammond. “The Big Easy Tour is huge for guys like us, who aren’t doing so well on the main tour. It’s a great development programme and enables us to feel like we can compete with the bigger players.”
The 24-year-old managed a par on the first extra hole to claim the trophy and a healthy cheque, which helped him to take up a coveted spot in the top five on the Order of Merit, thereby securing playing privileges for the Sunshine Tour’s 2016 season.
“It’s a big confidence booster and my game is heading in the right direction, so let’s see what we can do on the main tour,” he said.
It took a gutsy performance over three rounds at Copperleaf and only four players finished the tournament below par. Hammond fired rounds of 71, 73 and then a Wednesday 69 to set the winning total at three-under-par.
“It was a great event. I hit the ball really well the whole week and kept it going. I had a good friend, Damien, on the bag and he helped me to stay calm, because it got tough out there,” he said.
Meanwhile Bezuidenhout, who came into the week having won the final two events of the regular season, won the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit.
“I really wanted to get into the top five and secure a tour card, so I had to dig deep and luckily my second-place finish here today earned me the Order of Merit.
“Hopefully I can get to feel comfortable on the main tour, because I know I can compete there. I have the chance to do that now,” he said.
For Hammond it was a huge confidence boost to have won a 54-hole tournament and he looked to the future with joy.