“I put myself under pressure in the early stages of the round on Friday, but I managed to keep myself up there and I closed it off well. I just told myself to go for it and that paid off,” he said.
The 24-year-old’s electric finish resuscitated his round after a slow start. He reached the clubhouse in one-under-par 71 which, coupled with his Thursday 65, earned him an eight-under-par total and a three-shot victory.
“On the 16th I made a 15 foot putt for par and that really turned the momentum for me. Then on the 17th I sank a 12-footer from the fringe for eagle, which moved me two strokes ahead. Then I sank a 20-footer for birdie at the 18th and it felt really good to make a long one to finish the day off,” he said.
The Ebotse Golf & Country Estate professional last won at Big Easy Kempton Park in 2011 and was pleased to end his two-year drought with a victory.
“It feels great to win again. This is the result of a lot of hard work and once the putts started sinking I managed to relax a lot more. This has been a really good experience for me with regards to getting back into the right frame of mind,” he said.
The ERPM tournament marks the end of the regular Big Easy Tour season and in October the top 30 on the Order of Merit head to the Tour Championship. With this win O’Riley moves to ninth on the earnings list and he’s given himself a real opportunity to succeed at the season finale.
“The Tour Championship is at my home course, so I do have some advantage there. I’ve taken a lot of confidence from this victory and that will be a huge asset at Tour Champs,” he said.
Amateur Zander Lombard surprised the touring professionals with his second-round 69, which moved the top-ranked South African amateur into a tie for second. He was joined in the runner-up spot by Francois Coetzee, who shot a Friday 71 for a five-under-par total.
CJ du Plessis shared the overnight lead but struggled round in 77 on Friday and slipped down the leaderboard into a share of fourth alongside Jacques Kruyswijk, Anton Haig and Micky Hough.