Jacques Blaauw sealed his maiden professional victory with a dramatic eagle-two on the 16th hole at Simola Golf and Country Estate as he won the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event there.
That gave him a one-stroke edge from a pack that was ahead of him for much of his round, and then snapping at his heels over the final holes: Danie van Tonder, Neil Schietekat and PH McIntyre shared second on 11-under-par 205 for the 54-hole event, one stroke behind Blaauw.
“I had 147 yards to the flag on 16,” said Blaauw. “It was a bit long for me, so I had to hid quite a hard wedge, and luckily for me, it pitched, spun back about five metres and went in the hole. A fluke, really, but I’ll take it.”
He had said he would be nervous as he slept on a one-shot lead over Schietekat overnight, but he seemed unprepared for exactly how nervous he would be. “I was really tense on the first three holes, and then I missed a little one-and-a-half footer for par on the fourth, and I knew I was in trouble,” he said.
He made bogey again on five and nine, and, with just a single birdie on seven, his ship was clearly foundering.
“I knew I had to go deep on the back nine,” he said, and the wreck of his round that was staring him in the face had been averted with birdies on 11, 14 and 15. But, at 10-under, he was one off the clubhouse lead which had been set by McIntyre, and Van Tonder, Schietekat, Desvonde Botes, Bradford Vaughan and Jake Redman all had opportunities to get in front.
And then came the eagle.
For the second week in a row, McIntyre had to settle for second, but his final round was a thing of beauty as he strained every sinew to get daylight between him and his pursuers. He carded a superb seven-under-par 65, and might have been even better had he not dropped a shot on the par-three 11th.
Before then, however, he had a purple patch around the turn as he went eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie from the seventh to the 10th. But it was not to be – yet.
Also coming agonisingly close to maiden victories were Van Tonder and Schietekat.
Van Tonder had played four of the par-fives in six-under in the final round, but he managed just a par five on the 18th when he really needed eagle to break clear in front. And Schietekat made birdies on all the par-fives, but three bogeys on his card meant he will have to wait a bit longer to step into the winner’s circle.
For Blaauw, it was especially sweet. “I’m just so chuffed,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Victory moved him to 40th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit – but more importantly, it gave a promising career some momentum.