Long-awaited victory for Jeff

Driving is for show, putting is for dough” were words that rang true for Jeff Inglis, who claimed his first career victory at the Sunshine Big Easy Tour’s Kempton Park tournament, presented by Stonehage.

“My confidence is due to one fact – my putting. I’ve topped tables with ball striking for the last four years on the main tour, and it’s always been the putter that was the issue. Since I changed to a belly putter there’s been no looking back,” he said.

Inglis began the final round on Friday one stroke behind a four-way tie for the lead, but left his competitors behind with his second-round 64, reaching 13-under and finishing three strokes clear of runner-up Michael Hollick.

“It’s unbelievable, especially to shoot that kind of score,” said Inglis. “Coming from one behind, chasing it and then getting ahead – I obviously had to hit good shots coming in. It was pretty special.”

The 34-year-old turned pro in 2002 and has often been in contention over the years, but has never managed to clinch a win. This time it was different.

“There were always going to be nerves,” he said. “But with good ball striking it’s never been a thought process from tee to green for me. It’s all those six- to 10-foot putts that I’m making now, which I wasn’t making before. That’s the difference, and really helps the confidence.”

The Orkney resident shot a bogey-free 67 during round one on Thursday, singing in at five-under-par to lie one stroke back from a four-way tie for the lead, held by Teboho Sefatsa, Tyrone Ryan, Martin du Toit and Toto Thimba, Jnr.

But the newly crowned champion felt good as he teed it up on Friday, especially after his second-place finish at Observatory Golf Club in March, where he shot a course-record 62.

He leapt into his second 18 at Kempton Park with a birdie at the first, continued to build, and by the time he saw a leaderboard on the 15th realized he had a three-shot cushion.

“The first hole of the day I made a 12-footer, and that just kickstarts your round, and the putter feels easier in your hands for the whole day. Today I tried to hit as many greens as I could without making bogeys. After that drop at the fifth I stiffed the next one and made birdie. In fact, I went seven-under through the next nine holes after that bogey,” he said.

Hollick, who turns 25 in four days’ time, will surely see his second-place finish as an early birthday present to himself. The young gun took a share of eighth at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February, and his sole claim on second this week marks him as a promising player.

He followed a first-round 68 with a final-round 66, finishing on 10-under and a shot clear of Attie Schwartzel and Martin du Toit, who shared third.

For Inglis it was a long time coming, and he added: “There’s nine years of relief today. This really helps my confidence, and the next time I’m up there I’ll know what it feels like, what it is to win.”

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