17th February 2019 | Sunshine Tour
How Swede it is for Eriksson at Dimension Data Pro-Am
Philip Eriksson missed the cut in last week’s tournament, and the extra day of practice he got on the three courses at Fancourt paid off on Sunday as he cruised to a three-stroke victory in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
The Swede carded a final-round of four-under-par 68 to pull clear of the pack in a tournament record-equalling 21-under-par, finishing with a birdie on the last hole of the Montagu course to be comfortably clear of runner-up Justin Walters. Dean Burmester was third a further shot back, and Jaco van Zyl was fourth. Defending champion Jaco Ahlers shared fifth with Merrick Bremner and Jbe’ Kruger.
“I’m speechless, really,” said Eriksson in immediate reaction to his victory. “It feels like a dream come true. I’ve heard so much about this tournament though the years, even in Sweden. And even though it’s not a European Tour event or anything, it’s such a big event that a lot of people come here just to play this tournament. So playing here for the first time and winning feels unbelievable.”
It was a week during which he hardly put a foot wrong, making just three bogeys the whole week with rounds of 66 to open with on Montagu, 67 on Outeniqua and 67 on The Links ahead of his final round on Montagu.
Then, paired with a resurgent Van Zyl, with whom he shared the 54-hole lead, he started with a birdie, and then parred his way to the turn. Van Zyl, by contrast, made three birdies and two bogeys through the first nine as the two headed for home all tied up.
After the turn, Van Zyl faltered with four more bogeys and just two birdies to counter them, while Eriksson put his foot on the accelerator and made four birdies and just a single birdie.
“It wasn’t as enjoyable playing today as you might think,” said Eriksson. “Jaco played so well. He was firing at the pins, which were tucked in behind the bunkers and behind the water hazards. He just went straight at them all the time.
“I played more defensively, or strategically. I just tried to get my four- or five-metre putts and then go for the easier holes.
“But it was tough out there, windy as well. I didn’t really enjoy it until I hit the ball onto the 18th green. Then I felt like it should be fun. The walk onto the 18th was so cool with the people cheering and everything. Just playing with crowds gives me a lot of energy.”
It was clearly enough energy to get in some extra preparation, even though it was done in conditions very different to the warm weather during the tournament. “I couldn’t imagine while I was practicing that I could go this low,” he said. “It was raining and cold and misty. But with nice temperatures and good weather, it was so much easier than I thought.”
And he adds his name to a trophy that includes the names of major championship winners Nick Price, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Louis Oosthuizen.