7th June 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Schietekat ends five-year winless run with Sun City win
It has been a while.
It took Neil Schietekat all of five years to claim a second victory on the Sunshine Tour and after his triumph in the Sun City Challenge which he won with a total of six-under-par 210 on Thursday, the 34-year old admitted he’d begun to doubt whether he can win again.
“It feels amazing,” he said after his win at the Gary Player Country Club. “Just the other day I was thinking I don’t know if I was going to win again. You know, when you have not won for so long, you don’t know if you can do it again.”
That winless run ended this week. While he went into the final round trailing overnight leader, Jbe’ Kruger, by four shots, Schietekat knew he was not out of it yet and, in fact, had a real opportunity to make it two wins to his name.
He got off to a flying start in the final round, making back-to-back birdies on the first two holes before making a par on the third. He looked like he’d lose ground in the race for the top spot on the leaderboard when he dropped a shot on the par-three fourth hole. He would not make any other bogey on the front nine, and to the contrary, he collected three more birdies, on six, eight and nine on his way to a five-under 67 final round.
“I said to my caddie –I had Ray on the bag for the first time this week – ‘pars are a friend out here and if you make birdies, it’s good. If he (Kruger) comes back to us then obviously we’ve got a chance, which he can because this is a tough golf course,” he said of his mindset during the round.
It was on the back nine where he seemed to struggle a bit. Despite making three birdies there – on the 10th, 14th and 16th – he also dropped shots on the 12th and the 13th. At this point, however, most of the work had been done.
“I just hit great shots, good putts. The first week the putter is in the bag, the first week the caddie and we worked nicely together. It was a nice week. The putter was on and I think I had 25 putts today, so the putter was hot and if the putter is hot and you’re hitting it half decently, you’re going to win,” he added.
While a second win has eluded Schietekat for the last half a decade, he had a really solid 2017-18 season where he had eight top-10s which included that runner-up finish at the Sun Carnival Challenge which was won by Kruger. That form didn’t quite carry through to this season because in the six events played thus far, he missed the cut twice (Zanaco Masters and Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open), finished 40th at the Investec Swazi Open and 33rd at the Lombard Insurance Classic before claiming the Sun City Challenge.