Vaughn’s sweet Zambia triumph breaks drought

15_Sugar_GroenewaldV_rd4NEWHe hadn’t won on the Sunshine Tour since 2006, so Vaughn Groenewald really made it count on Sunday when he took the Zambia Sugar Open at Lusaka Golf Club by four strokes after a closing round of five-under-par 68.

He took his third title by holding off the challenge of Jean Hugo, who also finished with a 68, while Zimbabwe Open winner Dean Burmester finished with a two-under 71 to finish third, five shots behind Groenewald.

“I really didn’t know if I would ever win again over the last few years,” said Groenewald, “so I’m almost in tears thinking about it.”

Groenewald made a bogey on the second, but that was the only time he wavered as he quickly recovered from that lapse with two consecutive birdies, and he turned in one-under-par and very much in contention, if not in control. And then he put his foot on the pedal as he came home with four more birdies. “I had nothing to lose,” said Groenewald. “I just had to play. Luckily for me things went my way.”

He was drawn in the final group with Andrew Georgiou and Rhys Enoch, and both the younger men were unable to deal as well as Groenewald did with the pressure. “I wasn’t even nervous out there, except for a little bit towards the end,” he said.

He got his final round going after a quiet third round, his worst of the week, which was a two-over-par 71. “Actually, I putted much better today,” he said. “I told myself before the round if my putting came right, I’d do well.”

Hugo was in the mix from early on when he made eagle on the second. By the time he reached the 13th, he was 17-under, and in a share of the lead with Groenewald. But a double-bogey six on 17 cost him dearly, and, although he birdied 17, he came up just short.

Groenewald pounced. “On 16, I made birdie again, and that was a key moment,” he said. “On 17 I was shocking from about 100 metres, and put the approach in the bunker. I was a little nervous there, but luckily I made it up and down and the birdie on 18 was just the cherry on top.”

The victory got him into next week’s historic AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, tri-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, The European Tour and the Asian Tour – and that’s something he’s looking forward to. “Watch me – I’m 40 years old and I’m coming!” he said.


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