Juan Langeveld led the way with a closing two-under-par 70 on Saturday to finish two clear of Drikus van der Walt in the 2014 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
Langeveld became one of 31 players who earned their 2014 Sunshine Tour cards, five of whom were amateurs who now relinquish their amateur status. They were Tertius van den Berg, Bryce Bibby, Paul de Beer, Eddie Taylor and Andrew Light.
After five rounds, many of the players, including Langeveld, were exhausted. “It’s a tough week, and difficult with the wind swirling today,” said Langeveld. “It was a long week, and the heat also got to me.”
But Langeveld, who has been playing professional golf since 2008, was able to draw on experience as things got tougher and even tenser towards the end of his round, which included six birdies and four bogeys. “It definitely settles the nerves a little bit, because I’ve been here before and I know what to expect and what to do.
“You don’t really have to go and shoot the lights out, and I think that’s what a lot of guys think they need to do to get their cards – and you don’t. It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he added.
For Langeveld, who was aware that just finishing inside the top 30 was enough to secure his card, winning was still important. “It was important just for my confidence,” he said. “You know you’ve played well, you’ve put a good score together over five rounds – it’s nice to have that at the beginning of the year.”
Behind him, Van der Walt had set himself the target of winning Qualifying School, but a double-bogey five on the eighth derailed his charge for the finish line, and a bogey at 17 after Langeveld had birdied 16 to draw level with him saw him finish two back as Langeveld made another birdie on 18.
Round of the day belonged to JC Ritchie. The Irene Country Club player turned in five-under-par 31 with an eagle and three birdies, and two more birdies on his homeward nine saw him threatening the lead. But a bogey on 15 slowed his progress, and he finished in a share of third place with Callum Mowat, Haydn Porteous and Makhetha Mazibuko.
Langeveld will lead the contingent of new Sunshine Tour Qualifying School graduates to the Joburg Open in a week’s time as they seek to qualify for the event co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Langeveld, “but I need to take a couple of days off now – it was a tough five days!”