On Wednesday Jacques Kruyswijk pumped the air after sinking his par putt at the 18th of The Els Club Copperleaf. He had taken a maiden victory in his rookie year, and it came from a playoff on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour.
“To win as a rookie is a big achievement, because I’ve been working really hard on my game. It’s great to be in the winner’s circle,” he said.
The 21-year-old shot 68, which was the low round of the day, to catch overnight leader Desne van den Bergh and force a playoff after both players finished regulation play on a six-under-par total.
During the first playoff trip down the 18th Kruyswijk found a fairway bunker left with his drive, but an immaculate approach to 12 feet transferred the pressure to van den Bergh, who failed to up-and-down from a greenside bunker.
That left Kruyswijk with a tap-in for the win, which was a moment he savoured.
“That bunker shot turned things around for me,” said Kruyswijk. “Seeing it on the green was a huge confidence boost for me, and winning feels amazing,” he smiled.
The wind wreaked havoc on both days at Copperleaf and the lead changed throughout the final round. Kruyswijk made one bogey during the round, which was less than any of his competitors, and his consistency helped him move up through the field.
“It’s been a frustrating time for me this season, and to put it all together today is fantastic. The last two days the wind was pumping and the course was playing long, so I’m very happy with my performance,” he said.
The victory moves Kruyswijk to fifth on the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit with only one tournament ahead of the Tour Championship in early September.
The development tour would not exist without contributions to golf development, and this week International Sports Management (ISM) sponsored the tournament. ISM has Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen on its books, so it is little surprise that the company has a keen interest in local golf development.