Rowe fights back for first win

Lyle Rowe blazed through the back nine to catch Vaughn Groenewald and force a playoff, which he won, in the R100,000 Benoni Country Club event on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage.

Rowe drew level with Groenewald when he birdied the 18th, and the tournament went to a playoff that would last just one hole. “I’ve had a couple of chances on the Tour and it’s good to walk away with a win,” said Rowe.

24-year-old Rowe struggled slightly on the front nine, and his three birdies were offset by dropped shots. “Ball striking wasn’t quite there, but I managed to scramble,” said Rowe.

He made the turn at level-par, but immediately set the ball rolling with a birdie on the par-five 10th.

Soft greens made the course conducive to low scoring and Rowe took advantage, carding birdies on both the 13th and 14th for his first taste of six-under.

He made a drop on the par-three 15th after his tee shot carried to a bunker behind the green and he two-putted.

Rowe’s confidence would not be shaken and he birdied the par-four 16th for a return to the lead. “My back nine was much better, I made a couple of great putts,” said Rowe.

The 18th, Rowe’s “favourite hole on the course” would see him card consecutive birdies, the first recovered a dropped shot he carded on the 17th, the second would win him the playoff.

Vaughn Groenewald dropped a shot on the 18th and will be disappointed with second-place after two solid rounds. With four top-10 finishes prior to the Benoni CC event, Rowe was elated with first place. “It’s exciting to get it done!” he said.

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