Jaco van Zyl won his third title in the event when he took the Eye of Africa PGA Championship on the first extra hole of a play-off on Sunday after finishing regulation play level on 20-under-par with Dean Burmester.
After Burmester hit his approach on the 18th on the Eye of Africa Golf Estate in the play-off into a greenside bunker, and he was only able to get it out to 30 feet from the hole. Van Zyl was on the green for two at a similar distance, and he made no mistake with two putts to claim the title.
“This and the South African Open Championship are the biggest titles in South Africa,” said Van Zyl, “and it’s wonderful to have won this one for a third time. It’s a privilege to have my name on the trophy alongside some of the great golfing names that are there already.”
In third place, three strokes back from the leading duo, was Ockie Strydom, who sank a 30-foot bomb on 18 to secure his spot. And three more shots back were Dylan Frittelli and invitee Scott Vincent from Zimbabwe.
Van Zyl, who had played faultless golf all week, started well as he had hoped in the final round, but then made his first bogey in 59 holes when he dropped a shot on the fifth.
That was a signal for Burmester, playing in the group ahead of Van Zyl, to put pedal to the metal: He made four birdies in a row from the sixth ahead of the turn, and then another on the 11th. But he was destined to make just one more birdie in his quest for the title, and his superlative seven-under-par 65 was eventually just not enough to hold off the steadiness of Van Zyl throughout the week.
“When I got to 15, I saw on a scoreboard that Dean had got it to 20-under-par,” said Van Zyl, “and I figured that I needed to get at least two more shots to have a chance.”
He hit his tee shot on the par-three 15th to 25 feet, and he made that birdie putt to get the first of the strokes he wanted back.
And then it was precision play on the par-five 17th which gave him the other: While Burmester flirted with disaster with his tee shot on that hole, and made a battling par, Van Zyl’s smooth swing saw him on the green in two, and a great lag putt from 35 feet saw him sink a two-footer for birdie and he drew level with Burmester.
Then came the play-off.
And not only did Van Zyl win the trophy and the winner’s cheque, he also was given the title deed to a R1.9-million stand on the Eye of Africa Golf Estate by owner David Nagle – and he promptly gave it to his caddie Jason ‘Pup” Reynolds, on his bag for the first time in tournament play this week.
“At the beginning of the week, I said to Pup that I would give him the stand,” said Van Zyl, for whom the victory was quite enough.