Jaco strolls home at Centurion

He made it clear that winning is no walk in the park, but it certainly looked that way on Friday as Jaco van Zyl won the R500,000 Telkom PGA Pro-Am by six strokes from Jean Hugo.

He twice made four birdies in a row – from the seventh to the 10th and again from the 14th to the 17th – as he waltzed away from the field to win the title for the third consecutive year and take his 10th Sunshine Tour title and his eighth since February, 2009.

He became the first player since Bradford Vaughan to win a hat-trick of titles – Vaughan won the Limpopo Classic from 2004-2006.

“Winning the title three times in a row is way beyond my expectations,” he said. “Winning any event takes a lot of hard work and a lot of effort, so to do it three years in a row is a huge privilege.

“The last three years have really been good to me. Every year you look back and you think it was a great year, and fortunately for me, every year has got a little better.

“So here I am in the middle of September and I can look ahead at next year already, at what the goals and plans are going to be,” he added.

He carded a superlative eight-under-par 64 to close, after opening with a 67 and following that up with a 66.

He started the tournament wearied by travel on his return from a third place in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, had to spend time in hospital to help his family deal with some minor health issues, but still managed to look as if he would be the man to beat throughout the tournament.

But he recovered in emphatic fashion: “Every day I was out here, I was feeling a little bit better,” he said. “The timing got better, the rhythm got better, and I’ve always felt comfortable around these greens, so it was a win-win situation.”

He went into the final round level with Justin Walters at 11-under-par. Van Zyl laid down an early marker with a birdie on the opening hole, but he surrendered that advantage with a bogey on the fourth.

However, Walters couldn’t come to terms with his game in the heat of the closing 18 holes and he made consecutive bogeys on five and six, which set him back. In the end, his one-under-par was never going to be enough to keep Van Zyl at bay.

Not even a real run by Hugo, who has won twice on this year’s Sunshine Tour already, was going to be enough, and his five-under-par 67 fell well short.

Behind Walters, who finished alone in third, Alex Haindl – who fired a fine seven-under-par 67 of his own to close – and Jake Roos shared fourth on 11-under-par, a distant eight strokes behind Van Zyl.

First round leader Darren Fichardt closed with a 68 for sole possession of sixth.

For Van Zyl, spending two more weeks in South Africa before resuming his European campaign in Scotland, Portugal and Spain is a tantalising prospect. “Feet up, watch the World Cup and have a few beers,” he said.

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