Jean Hugo survived the worst the Western Cape winter weather could throw at him on Friday to win the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung event at Arabella Golf Club.
In a tournament shortened to 36 holes after the second round was disrupted by gale-force winds and the final day was hit by icy rain squalls, Hugo finished his second round in three-under-par 69 to take a one-stroke victory over rookie Rhys West.
Hugo sealed the victory with a birdie on the waterlogged 18th hole – his third birdie on his homeward nine – to edge ahead of round one leader West, and he was not to be headed as the remaining half of the field tried in vain to chase him down.
“I saw Rhys was on six-under,” said Hugo of his position when he made up for his bogey on 10 with a 40-foot birdie putt on 11, “and I knew I had to get to six-under or try for one better.”
He made birdie on the par-five 13th to draw level with West and then set about the task of trying to win.
“There were a lot of holes that could bite me still,” he said. “So I hung in well on 14, 14, 16 and 17. I had chances, and then 18 with it playing a little downwind, I had two-iron off the tee and four-iron set me up for a good sand wedge. I hit it to about five feet and made the putt.”
It gave Hugo his ninth Vodacom Origins of Golf series title, the most by any player, and his 15th Sunshine Tour title after his last came in the series’ corresponding Western Cape event last year in Langebaan.
“It’s not that I’ve been stuck for a long time,” said Hugo, “but it felt like a long time, and it was basically a year that I’ve been on 14 wins, and I’ve had a few chances to extend that number, so it’s nice to get off that 14.”
Behind West, the last Sunshine Tour professional to win a tournament at Arabella, Chris Swanepoel shared third with Trevor Fisher Jnr, Ulrich van den Berg and Adilson Da Silva on four-under-par.
It was a tough win for Hugo in difficult conditions, but, when you produce the best score of the final round in those conditions, the chances are good it will be enough to win.
“It felt like a marathon out there, but you have to just refocus,” he said. “I’m not a fan of these conditions, but it’s the same for everybody. So to have knuckled down and be three under for the last eight holes to win a tournament is good stuff in my book.”