Kamte powers to playoff victory in BMG Classic

James Kamte won his fourth Sunshine Tour title on Sunday when he sank a 10-foot birdie putt to win the R600,000 BMG Classic in a sudden-death playoff with Dawie van der Walt.

The pair finished level on none-under-par 207 after 54 holes, giving them a one-stroke edge over Shaun Norris in third. He won the playoff on the first hole with an intimidating 320-metre drive which made the 90-metre approach he was left a simple affair.

“That’s what you’ve got to do in a playoff,” he said afterwards. “Smoke it and don’t even look after it – just bend down and pick up your tee and walk.”

He was contesting the playoff on the back of a superlative eight-under-par 64 for his final round, a bogey-free round which took an extraordinary nine-under 63 from Van der Walt to haul him in.

“I could have made birdie on every hole on the final nine,” said Kamte, “I was hitting it so well. But I said before the tournament started that I wanted to win it.”

The victory ended a drought for the 29-year-old Kamte, who last won a significant event on his Asian Tour debut in the 2009 Asian Tour International.

“I’ve been battling injury for a long time,” said Kamte who hurt his knee and his wrist in a surfing accident in Thailand with Anton Haig and Pablo Larrazabal soon after his victory.

“I really just had to give it time, and that was very difficult to do,” he said.

And the relief as he sank the putt to win the playoff was palpable as he let out a yell of triumph as it went in the hole and covered his face as he wept with relief.

“There was such a lot going through my head,” said Kamte. “It’s hard to know you can win and not to be able to do so, so this was really a huge weight off my shoulders.”

He didn’t seem to be a contender after the opening two rounds in which he ground his way to a 72 and a 71, but his final round ignited as he made three birdies in a row ahead of the turn, and then again from 11 to 13.

But Van der Walt was stalking him after the big 28-year-old who is trying to break into the US circuit pulled himself together in the wake of a poor second round 78.

“That hurt me,” admitted Van der Walt. Many players would have thrown in the towel after that, but the 1.98-metre gentle giant turned in three-under 33 and then raced for home. He made six more birdies, and narrowly missed a 15-footer for birdie on his final regulation hole which would have given him the lead.

In the end, Kamte’s show of strength off the playoff tee was decisive – he had a 20-metre edge over Van der Walt on the fairway, and a 25-footer for birdie for Van der Walt was a bridge too far.

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