Derick breaks through with Big Easy win

Derick Petersen swept to an impressive three-stroke victory on Friday in the Sunshine Big Easy Tour event at Observatory Golf Club to claim his first victory as a professional.

He carded a seven-under-par 65 to hunt down overnight leader Ockie Strydom, whom he trailed by seven strokes going into the final round.

“It’s an awesome feeling to win my first professional tournament and have it named in honour of Ernie Els,” said the 22-year graduate of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation.

“It played such a big part in my career. They gave me equipment, opportunities, everything, and to be able to win now is just fantastic,” he said.

With Cameron Esau finishing fifth and Makgetha Mazibuko in a share of 25th, and they are also former members, it was a good tournament for the foundation.

Petersen got his chase off to a wonderful start with an eagle on the second hole. “That was a chip in, and it gave me a lot of confidence for my round,” he said.

He birdied five, but then made a bogey – his only one of the day – on six. It was to be the last time he took a step backward as he pursued that victory.

He made another birdie on nine to turn in three-under 34, and then two more birdies and an eagle on his way in secured him the title.

“I didn’t know where I was in relation to Ockie till the last hole,” he said, “when someone told me I was in front.” He underlined the extent of his victory by making birdie at the 18th.

Petersen didn’t make a single cut on the 2010 Sunshine Tour. “I was really struggling, and this will give me a lot of confidence now,” he said. “I feel I’ll be able to make it through a qualifier into an event on the main tour soon again.”

On hearing the news, Hannes van Niekerk, CEO of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation said: “Wow, that’s wonderful news! Well done, Derick! It just shows you that Ernie’s and Dr Hasso Plattner’s efforts in helping talented youngsters from families of limited resources are really paying off.”

Petersen also expressed his gratitude to Roger Wessels’ KeNako Golf & Sports Academy in George. “They’re helping me with coaching, sports psychology and the services of a biokineticist,” he said.

The win pushed him to the top of the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit after three events in the 10-tournament series which will be topped off with a Tour Championship.

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