Scott converts 57 into Nelson Mandela Championship victory

Scott Jamieson of Scotland converted his second-round eight-under-par 57 into his maiden European Tour victory on Sunday when he won the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa in a sudden-death play-off.

His startling 57 came on a course was anything but regulation: It was on a Royal Durban Golf Club layout dramatically changed by heavy rainfall over the past three months: The course was reduced from its initial par 70 of 6,194 metres (6,773 yards) to a par 65 of 5,594 metres (5,133 yards).

In a tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour played under immense difficulties caused by rains which made the course unplayable over the first two days, Jamieson beat off the challenges of England’s Steve Webster and Spain’s Eduardo de la Riva after the trio finished on seven-under-par 123 after the shortened regulation play of 36 holes.

“It was a strange day,” he said. “First thing this morning, I didn’t think I’d end up standing with the trophy.”

Starting that strange day on the 10th, he raced through his opening nine in 26. “I was only six shots off the pace,” he recalled, “but there were a lot of people between me and the leader which usually makes it tough.”

A good start like that – five-under through nine – goes a long way to making it less tough, but it still needs a lot of things to go right.

One of those things was making three more birdies on his way home as he matched Jaco van Zyl‘s 57 from just a few minutes earlier for an unofficial Sunshine Tour and European Tour ‘record’.

But he had a lot of waiting to do: “I went back to the hotel, had some lunch, had a shower, spoke to my wife, watched the first half of the football – I hear the second half was more exciting!,” he said. “I checked the scores a couple of times. I did think that it’s difficult to chase down someone who has set a target, especially in these unusual circumstances.

“I knew there was a chance, and then I decided I better head back to the course.”

He, Webster and De la Riva headed up the 18th again, and De la Riva was the first to fall out when he was unable to get up and down out of a greenside trap.

Webster’s tee shot on the second play-off hole went well left into so severe rough, and he tugged his approach from that onto the practice putting green to the left of the 18th green. His chip after he was given relief wound up on the fringe, and he was unable to sink the par putt.

Meanwhile, Jamieson’s drive was in the middle of the fairway, his approach to the heart of the green, and he made it look simple with a conventional two-putt for par to win.

“Of course there were nerves in the play-off,” he said. “But that’s why we play – to get into that situation, and that’s what I kept telling myself. Those guys would have been nervous too. It’s just a question of who plays the best golf.”

Local hero Tim Clark missed out on a chance to win when he made a mess of the 17th while in a share of the lead: A double bogey there dumped him right out of contention, and not even a lengthy birdie putt on 18 was consolation after he looked as if he could wrap the tournament up in regulation – or at least get into the play-off.

He shared fourth with Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer, England’s Matthew Nixon and Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark.

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