King James reigns in Swaziland

James Kingston was crowned the 2013 Investec Royal Swazi Open champion on Saturday after draining a clutch 12-foot putt on the 18th of Royal Swazi Sun Country Club to pip Ruan de Smidt in a playoff.

 

“Every win is a big win and they’re all gratifying,” beamed Kingston. “I haven’t won in a while, and I’ve grinded over the last few months, so coming away with a win just makes it all worth it.”

 

The 47-year-old has seen it all in his 25 years as a professional, and won the Swazi Open in 2002. He relied on that experience when he turned up the pressure during the playoff.

 

“Deep inside I knew I was playing well, and the fact that I’ve won before in Swaziland helped. It was a tough pin to attack today, but I had to take it on, because I went out to win,” he explained.

 

The Rustenburg golfer has been in a slump of late, but turned all of that around with his playoff victory, which came on the back of 21 birdies and two eagles made during the 72 holes of regulation play.

 

That scoring equated to a 45-point total based on the tournament’s modified stableford scoring format, which offers up eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie and none for par. One point is deducted for every bogey and three for double or worse.

 

He and De Smidt finished on 45 points apiece and entered a sudden-death playoff, repeating the 18th until the victor emerged. That moment came during the second playoff hole, when De Smidt left Kingston with a 12-foot par putt for victory.

 

Kingston and 2012 champion Christiaan Basson are both Investec brand ambassadors, and it was fitting that for a second year the trophy found a home in the hands of an Investec player.

 

“Every win is special, but Investec has stuck with me through some tough times, and it feels good to lift this specific trophy. And I’m glad we could make it two years in a row,” said Kingston.

 

Saturday was less of a fairy tale for De Smidt, who was visibly disappointed with his playoff loss. The 23-year-old can take plenty away from matching the leading total of 45 points, and claims sole second as consolation for a great week.

 

Mark Williams made an incredible birdie at the 17th and then lipped out with his chip for victory at the 18th. He missed a three-footer for par coming back, eliminating himself from a chance at the playoff and finishing in a share of third.

 

Darryn Lloyd also had a near-miss for victory at 18, but could not find that last birdie and joined Williams on 44 points.

 

Michael Hollick produced rounds of 16 and 17 points during the week, but was unable to close the deal on Saturday and finished in a share of fifth on 41 points. He did well to stay in the moment when things were not going his way, and did well for his first time playing in the final three-ball.

 

James Kamte shared fifth with Hollick, while Jaco Ahlers and PH McIntyre tied for seventh on 40 points.

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