So far this season: Drought-ending victories

15th January 2019 | Sunshine Tour

So far this season: Drought-ending victories

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So far this season: Drought-ending victories

Ask any professional golfer what’s the most important attribute to have to win golf tournaments, and more often than not, the answer will be ‘patience’. However good a player’s short game, ball-striking, chipping or putting is, the patience to compose oneself after a bad shot and the patience to keep working hard even when things don’t look promising, is the ultimate key to success in golf.

“Just the other day I was thinking I don’t know if I was going to win again. You know, when you have not won for so long, you don’t know if you can do it again,” said Neil Schietekat after his drought-ending win in the Sun City Challenge. He had last tasted victory five years prior and his half-a-decade-long winless run threatened to remove memories of his last victory.

He’s not alone among those whose 2018 victories spelt the end of tough times. JJ Senekal’s dramatic Zanaco Masters triumph in Lusaka, like Schietekat’s Sun City win, ended a dry run of five years. He went on to make eight consecutive cuts before a dip in form caught up with him.

And then there is Louis de Jager. He did not miss a single cut in his first 13 starts this season and the one cut he missed at the Vodacom Origins of Golf in Parys, was, in fact, paving the way for the win that was to follow the next week. Already boasting two runner-up finishes at the time, De Jager ended his four-year winless run with a come-from-behind one-stroke victory over CJ du Plessis and Breyten Meyer in the Sibaya Challenge at Mount Edgecombe.

“It has been long,” De Jager exclaimed after the win, “I think it’s about four years since my last win, so it’s a real relief to get it done.”

It was Bryce Easton, Garth Mulroy and Louis Oosthuizen, however, who had to wait a little longer for their next Sunshine Tour titles. Mulroy had not won a tournament since his victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship of 2011 and his victory in the Vodacom Origins of Golf in Parys was a welcome relief.

In 2012, Easton claimed back-to-back victories in the form of the Sun City Challenge and the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Zebula. That was the last time he was in the winner’s circle. That all ended at the season-opening Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open, however, where he shot a final-round nine-under 63 to equal the course record and claim a one-stroke victory on 16-under-par 272 at Royal Harare.

Later in the year, Oosthuizen earned himself the unique distinction of being only the fourth South African player to claim the oldest open championships in the world – namely The Open Championship and the South African Open Championship – after his six-stroke victory over France’s Romain Langasque in the South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg at Randpark Golf Club.

He had not won a Sunshine Tour tournament since his 2012 Africa Open victory, and he was also making his first appearance at the South African Open in over six years. Justin Harding’s back-to-back victories at Lombard Insurance Classic and Investec Royal Swazi Open came two years since his last win, and the same applied to Vaughn Groenewald’s Wild Coast victory.

Peter Karmis’ and JC Ritchie’s wins this season follow on the success of last season for both players where Ritchie won the Zimbabwe Open while Karmis claimed both the Sun City Challenge and Royal Swazi Open victories. With six tournaments left this season, there are enough opportunities for many more players to end their winless runs, but it will always take a dose of patience.

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