It’s been six years and four months since Titch Moore won a Sunshine Tour title, and it must have seemed as if it might take seven more as he trudged up the 18th for the fifth play-off hole in Sunday’s final round of the Telkom Business PGA Championship.
But he eventually made birdie on that hole to defeat Ulrich van den Berg after more than an hour of extra play, and after Van den Berg had had two opportunities to finish things off himself during the play-off.
And he is finally able to fulfil the wish of his six-year-old son who has been asking him for a trophy for all of his young life.
“It was also my younger son’s third birthday today,” said Moore, “so there’s real cause to celebrate.”
He fired a five-under-par 67 to go to 15-under-par for the tournament, a mark that Van den Berg matched with a birdie in his final hole of regulation play.
“I was happy just to get into the play-off,” said Moore. “I didn’t think 15 was going to be enough, but I made a birdie on 18 in regulation, made a nice putt coming down the hill.
“To play an extra five holes coming up that mountain was no problem when you come out on the winning end of it – I’m very chuffed.”
In the end, it was his consistency in regulation which probably sealed things for Moore. “I gave myself a couple of chances – I hit a beautiful shot on 13 and nearly made one, and that just got me in the mood.
“At the next hole, I hit it stone cold, and I just ground hard out there – and at the end of the day, whether I win in regulation or play-off, I’ll take it,” he said.
The play-off was a nerve-wracking affair, and Van den Berg (right) looked the more likely winner throughout. In fact, he had two birdie putts to seal the deal during the second and third trips up the 18th in the play-off, but they just refused to go down.
And, as both players grew increasingly tired and tense, their approaches to the par-five 18th became increasingly inaccurate. But their recoveries kept them going, and, in the end, Moore managed to nail it down after a monumentally difficult Van den Berg chip from down the embankment out of thick kikuyu grass slithered too far past the hole for him to make birdie.
Moore stepped up and rammed home the four-footer he had left and it was over.
There were others who had a chance to win: JJ Senekal hardly hit a fairway all day, and in the end, his two-under-par 70 was enough to give him third, while third-round leader Oliver Bekker stumbled on the home stretch with bogeys on 16 and 17, relegating him to a share of fourth with Danie van Tonder and Darren Fichardt.
“I feel really bad for Ulrich,” said Moore. “He’s a good player and he’s been playing nicely for a while. But I’ve also been knocking on the door for the last year. I had a lot of seconds last year, and to finally win a summer tournament on the Sunshine Tour is fantastic.”