At the Sun Sibaya Challenge on Friday Michael Hollick could sense that his maiden victory was close. He was tied for the lead playing the 18th hole of his home course at Mount Edgecombe Country Club and his caddie, a friend who was on the bag for the first time, told him that every golfer dreams of making a birdie at the last to win. Hollick obliged.
“Everyone on tour thinks about that moment. You never really know if you’ll win as a professional, so it’s quite a relief to actually do it. I hit two perfect shots on the 18th and managed to sink the putt, which just ended a special day at my home club,” he said.
The Durban local grew up in a house behind the first tee at Mount Edgecombe and brought the crowds out to watch as he claimed a one-shot win over Jean Hugo and Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya.
“I felt pretty calm coming down the stretch and had a lot of support, which really helped,” said Hollick. “I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I was, but I had my girlfriend, parents, and a whole bunch of mates walking with me and got a few big cheers, which helped me to stay in the moment.”
The shot that defined Hollick’s round was his approach at the 14th, which set him on course for a breakthrough win.
“The 14th is a good, long par-five and your second shot is over water. I had 224 metres slightly into the breeze. My mate phoned me last night and said ‘people don’t remember guys who don’t win, so be aggressive tomorrow and make it happen,’ and that really went through my head and I pulled out my three-wood.
“I was standing over that three-wood, and a lot of things go through your mind, but I got over it and decided that this was my time – I had to make it happen. I hit an unbelievable shot to four feet and made the putt for eagle,” he said.
Serendipity was on Hollick’s side. He had the family watching, his friend on the bag, and was playing at home. It took a gutsy performance, but he remained composed on the stretch.
There was an atmosphere in the air during the final round and it certainly felt like Hollick’s day long before he lifted the trophy.
“Winning at home is a pleasure, you couldn’t ask for anything better. I’ve taken my first professional title on the Sunshine Tour and this will give me a lot of confidence and belief going forward,” he said.