16th December 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Short-game master-class wins it for Lipsky at Leopard Creek
American David Lipsky put on a short-game master-class on Sunday to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek by two strokes on 14-under-par.
Not even a double-bogey five on the par-three 16th was enough to stop him from cruising home ahead of Scot David Drysdale, with Zander Lombard and Scott Jamieson sharing third a further shot back.
“My wedge play and my short game was really on this week. It’s definitely one of the strengths of my game, but this week, I definitely beat the odds!” he laughed. “I hit so many sand wedges to within 10 feet and that’s what got me the win.”
The win was his second on the European Tour after his first came in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland in 2014.
But he had a shaky moment on the homeward nine when Lombard turned on the afterburners in an attempt to catch him – and Lipsky looked for a brief moment as if he might falter.
Lombard had responded to consecutive bogeys on eight and nine with five threes in a row after the turn, including three birdies and a superb eagle on 13. And Lipsky hit his tee shot on 13 into the hazard on the left to leave local fans thinking the leader was feeling the pressure.
Lipsky responded with a superb par-save on 13 – thanks to a laser-guided chip which ended up close to the pin, as usual – and then he emphasised his superiority on the day with an approach to 15 which he nearly holed. The tap-in birdie set things back on track again. “I probably wanted to be a little more stress free than that, but it ended up working out,” he laughed.
Lombard kept pushing, and paid the price when he found the water on the par-five 15th – he saved par there. But overly aggressive play on the tough 16th saw him make a six on the par-three after two visits to the water, and his chances were gone. With Lipsky’s big lead restored, even the double-bogey on 16 was merely a brief speed wobble.
He came down 18 with just a hint of a swagger. “I hit driver-nine-iron on 18, believe it or not,” he said of the par-five which has destroyed many a player’s hopes. “I smashed my drive. I’ve been hitting it pretty deep this whole week, making good contact. I caught it on the last and it made the hole a little easier for me, especially with what was on the line.”
To win again after four years was huge for Lipsky. “It’s indescribable,” he said. “Winning is what we all hope to do. That’s what we all practice for, it what we all put in the time for – blood sweat and tears to be here.
“This was a tough year for me. I haven’t played that well. I really struggled. I kept my card, but I struggled – I’m not going to lie. To cap it off with a win at the end of the year is so special and I’m really looking forward to big things in 2019.”
Drysdale capped a splendid week with his closing 67, while Jamieson battled bravely to overcome six bogeys on his way to a level-par 72.