Nathan Waghorn is yet to earn a Sunshine Tour cheque, but that didn’t matter when he beat 12-time winner Desvonde Botes 2&1 in round one of the ISPS Handa Match Play Championship on Tuesday.
ÂVery big smile today, because I definitely went into this game the underdog. Desvonde was expected to win, but that took the pressure off me, so I could just play my game and see where it got me. Today it got me the win,Â he said.
The 23-year-old took to Zwartkop Country Club early on, which put the pressure onto Botes, who struggled to keep pace with the youngster. Botes was seeded 17th in the draw, which means he was the highest-ranked player in today’s field. These rankings are based on current Order of Merit standings.
ÂWhat I like about Zwartkop is that you must be smart off the tee,Â said Waghorn. ÂI started great, birdied the first two and parred the third, so I was two-up through three and felt really good. IÂm a good mid-iron player and this course sort-of plays into my hands.Â
Botes moved to 25th on the Order of Merit after his tied-third finish at the BMG Classic a fortnight ago, and was certainly the favourite to win. He fought back well throughout the day, but was always playing catch-up. Waghorn eventually sealed the round by winning the 14 and 16, pulling two clear before a half at 17 secured his victory.
ÂThis format makes it a very interesting game. On paper Desvonde was due to beat me today, but match play is a very different story, so IÂm very excited for the week. Match play can bring up some surprises,Â he said.