Hugo’s burst on opening nine wins at Simola

Jean Hugo played some of the best golf of his life on the front nine on Friday to ease to a playoff victory in the R540,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Simola Golf Estate.

He carded a final-round eight-under-par 54 and beat Peter Karmis on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff as he sank his second successive birdie putt on the 18th – this time from eight feet as Karmis just went past the hole on the right with his birdie attempt.

“I was pleased the playoff was on 18,” said Hugo, “because Peter would probably have a wood in, and I was pretty confident about getting on in two.”

Hugo turned in seven-under-par 29 – with five birdies and an eagle – as he hunted down overnight leader Peter Karmis, who had started the day with a six-stroke lead over Hugo and three other pursuers.

“It just rolled for me,” said Hugo. “I didn’t start the day thinking that I would try and chase Peter down, but once I got close when I made eagle on seven, I tried to keep in touch.”

The wind picked up and was swirling confusingly for the players on the back nine, and Hugo was not able to play with quite the brilliance he exhibited before the turn.

“It wasn’t easy, and some of the holes were really difficult into the wind,” he said, “but I felt I could rely on my experience when I was two behind with two to play.”

As he charged, his pursuers all fell back in the face of the Hugo onslaught, and, when Karmis pulled his tee shot on 10, and had to come out sideways on his way to a double-bogey six, Hugo’s par was enough to take him into the lead.

But the drama was not done, as Karmis held on and finally made a birdie again for the first time since his second of the round on the seventh as he nudged a little chip shot with a hybrid club from the fringe of the 14th green against the pin and into the hole.

Then Hugo fluffed his approach to 15th as he hit it fat, and then over-hit his third into the back bunker. He didn’t get up and down as he missed a six-footer for par.

Karmis calmly laid up, played another exquisite chip to three-and-a-half feet and made the downhill birdie putt.

Hugo was staring down the barrel with a two-stroke deficit, which remained in place until the 17th, where Hugo hit a nine-iron close and made the only birdie of the day on that hole as Karmis hit his tee short and three-putted for off the green for bogey.

They were all square up the 18th, and both made bold birdies to force the playoff.

“I threw everything at Jean, but I couldn’t do anything to stop him,” said Karmis. “He was brilliant with his irons, hitting it to five or six feet all day and sinking just about every putt he looked at. The way he was playing today, it was his day to win and I’m truly thrilled for him.”

Lurking in the background in case either Hugo or Karmis faltered down the stretch was Alex Haindl, who also closed in eight-under 64. His 13-under-par tournament total of 203 was two strokes back.

Charl Coetzee finished in fourth after his closing 66 a further five strokes back on 208.

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