He carded hi fourth consecutive round in the 60s as he edged Justin Turner by a single stroke with his five-round aggregate of 15-under-par 345, with Zander Lombard and Rourke van der Spuy in joint third another shot further back. This was after two rounds at each of Bloemfontein and Schoeman Park Golf Clubs, with the final round after the cut being played at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
“I was nervous over my first tee shot on the first day,” said Du Plessis, “and then I was nervous throughout the round today. And when I saw the leaderboard on 17, I really started to nip.”
He needn’t have: He overcome the late-round wobble which nearly derailed him with bogeys on 10 and 15, after he had turned in three-under-par 33, with a good birdie on 17, and then he rolled in his birdie putt on the par-five 18th to match the low round of the day – Bryce Easton, England’s Henry Featherstone and Portugal’s Antonio Rosado also signed for 68s in gaining their Sunshine Tour cards.
He plays out of Sesambos Golf Club in Limpopo, a 70-member club way up in the north of the country, but he spends a lot of his time at Serengeti Golf Estate under the tutelage of Doug Woods.
He signed away his amateur status latte last year, but seemed unconcerned at the risks he was taking should he not have gained his Sunshine Tour card. “There is always the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, or some other professional events I could have played in,” he said.
Behind him and the others in second and third, Easton and Etienne Bond shared fifth, four shots off the pace, while Bryce Bibby was alone in seventh.
Sean Jacklin, son of the 1969 Open champion and 1970 US Open champion Tony Jacklin, also gained his card, finishing a good week with a 69 to share eighth with three other players, including the leading amateurs, Burger Heckroodt of the local club and Kevin Rundle of KwaZulu-Natal.
Other amateurs to gain their cards were Breyten Meyer and Tyron Roelofz.
Of the 33 players who gained their playing privileges, eight were from outside South Africa, including three from the United States. After Jacklin, who plays under the Scottish flag, Grant Doverspike of the US was the best of the foreign contingent, finishing 12th on eight-under-par.
The rookies will get their first shot at a Sunshine Tour event in February’s Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt.