His birdie putt on 18 appeared to have misgivings about going in, but there was no doubting the emphatic nature of Jean Hugo’s seven-stroke victory on Friday in the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Langebaan Country Estate.
He carded a final five-under-par 67 to pull clear of his pursuers on 14-under-par 202 for the 54-hole event, with a trio of them sharing second on seven-under 209 – Merrick Bremner, Jbe’ Kruger and Andrew Curlewis.
“That birdie was a nice way to finish it,” said Hugo, who won a record-breaking eighth title on the Vodacom Origins series, and took his first win since September 2011, and his 15th career title on the Sunshine Tour.
He made birdies on one, four and eight to get a jump on the players who had a chance of catching him and start on the best possible way. “You feel it building,” he said, “and you just have to stay within yourself. It’s easy to just run away in your head and think you’ve won the tournament after nine holes.
“That’s obviously what happened on 11. I had a three-putt for bogey, and I told myself the closing holes were quite tough into the wind, and anything can happen. So I just knuckled down, and made two more birdies on 12 and 13 which really gave me a nice cushion.
“And when I saw a leaderboard again, I was six shots clear. From then on, I just tried to protect that lead, and the birdie on 18 was a bonus,” he added.
He made just three bogeys all week, all of which were three-putts, but his game was solid through the rain, wind and cold of the opening round, the idyll of the second round during which he carded a brilliant 63, and then the victory march of the final round.
Bremner was the man who made up the most ground on Hugo with a five-under 67 of his own. After his second-round 66, he was clearly in great form, but his opening 76 – marred by two triple-bogeys caused by wayward drives – left him with too much to do.
Kruger was solid throughout, closing with successive 69s after his opening 71, and it appears that a workmanlike approach to his game is starting to get him back on track after a dismal couple of months.
Curlewis closed with a 70 for his fourth top-10 finish of the year.
Steven Ferreira and Titch Moore shared fifth on six-under-par 210, while Vaugn Groenewald, Mark Murless, Heinrich Bruiners and Attie Schwarztel shared seventh a further shot back.
For Hugo, it’s all coming together just in time. “With the summer events coming up on longer courses, we have to be pin-point and accurate,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do, everything feels good and obviously, it helps.”