Rudy Whitfield celebrated his first professional win at the Sunshine Big Easy TourÂs Glendower tournament on Friday, and his daughters were the first to congratulate him.
ÂMy wife came in for me today, and when she heard I was in the lead she quickly went to get our girls from school. Whenever you watch the PGA Tour the kids always run onto the green – sheÂs always wanted to do something like that and I enjoyed having them right there with me,Â he said.
The Glendower Golf Club professional relished his chance to take on the touring professionals and claimed a wire-to-wire victory over Johan Bekker, who finished two strokes back on one-under-par.
ÂItÂs always nice to get an invitation and to play in a professional tournament,Â said Whitfield. ÂAny time I play a competitive round I enjoy it, and to take the win is special, even more so at my home course.
ÂWhen you can pull it off against the guys who are playing and practicing every day itÂs a great feeling. It was really fun to be out there.Â
Whitfield played on the Sunshine Tour for 11 years, which certainly gave him an edge as he came down the stretch. Despite the nerves playing their usual tricks, he kept calm and never allowed Bekker to get closer than within two strokes of his lead. Part of staying calm was that he followed every drop with a birdie.
ÂThe last three holes I felt quite nervous, and towards the end I was limping home a little. If you make a bogey and follow it with a couple of pars then you start to worry about making the shot back. If you bounce back straight away it does a lot for your confidence,Â he said.
And with his first win under the belt, Whitfield was excited about playing a few more events in future. ÂI won the National PGA Championship this year, so itÂs turning out to be quite a good year so far! IÂd like to play a little bit more, and would definitely like to play a couple of local tournaments. Hopefully this win takes me there,Â he said.
Beyers Smith shot 76 on day one, but came back with a Friday 68 and leapt into a share of third. Joining him was John McLean, who shot consecutive 72s, and amateur Darin de Smidt, who shot 70, 74.