Jaco Prinsloo’s choice to hit hybrid instead of driver led to the 23-year-old making par to win the sudden-death playoff at the Sunshine Big Easy Tour’s Kempton Park tournament on Friday.
“I teed off first and took hybrid, and saw both of the other guys taking driver. I stuck to my game and luckily mine turned out to be the right choice. It was tough and stressful, being my first playoff and all, so it’s quite special to win,” he said.
The Thabazimbi professional carded 64 on Friday to reach the clubhouse with a 12-under-par total. When the leaders hovered around that score coming down the last, he realized a playoff was on the cards.
Soon after, the young gun was warming up to take on Attie Schwartzel and overnight leader Divan Gerber, both of whom are regular contenders on tour.
“I was sitting around, but then I starting putting and watching the scores,” laughed Prinsloo. “Then it was time to go out there. You don’t really have time to think about it until the moment is over, but it’s a nice feeling to know you can do it!”
Since gaining his card through the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School, the Pretoria local has recorded a tied-ninth finish at Big Easy Roodepoort and a tied-16th finish at Big Easy Centurion. Friday marked his maiden win.
The fairways had plenty of run and the greens were soft, which gave Prinsloo a chance to play aggressive golf and chase down the lead. He succeeded through his eight birdies, six of which came before the turn.
“I made a good few birdies and got lost in it all today,” he explained. “Getting off to a quick start and turning six-under got me where I needed to be.
“I was going for everything at the start, and once I got into position I played a bit more conservatively and made birdies only where I needed to.”
It was a see-saw final round with plenty of movement on the leaderboard. Gerber managed to stay in front for most of the round, but missed a birdie putt at the 18th that would have secured victory.
Instead he joined the playoff on 12-under, but was almost immediately eliminated when his drive went out of bounds.
Schwartzel had a chance to tie the first playoff hole after nailing a superb chip from off the back of the green, but his putt lipped out, leaving Prinsloo with a tap-in for the win.
Local professional Etienne Bond carded rounds of 66 and 68 to finish tied fourth on 10-under-par. It was a superb result by the club pro, who was joined in fourth by Neil Cheetham, Lindani Ndwandwe, Stuart Smith and Ignatius Mketekete.
Now that Prinsloo has a playoff victory under his belt, he’s keen to win more and make his way onto the Sunshine Tour.
“It was a good experience and it’s great to come out on top. It’s an amazing feeling and hopefully I can get a couple more!” he exclaimed.