Sunshine Tour

Cool head wins it for Nortje in Kitwe

2017-06-04 18:15
Riekus Nortje (Gallo)

Kitwe - Riekus Nortje kept a cool head at Nkana Golf Club to shoot a flawless four-under-par 68 final round of the Zambia Open and win his maiden Sunshine Tour title with a total 18-under-par on Sunday.

In a tightly contested affair which looked like it would like it might go into a play-off between himself and Ockie Strydom – whom he beat by two strokes – at some stage, Nortje showed maturity and refused to let the magnitude of the event overwhelm him. Two birdies on the front nine ensured he tightened his grip atop the leaderboard, and another on 12 followed before he made another one on 17 to clinch the title.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet.” he said after his win. “I think tomorrow I will definitely feel it. About two or three years ago I was nowhere with my golf. I had a (Sunshine Tour) card at one stage; lost the card, played Big Easy Tour. Playing the Big Easy was important for me.”

For a player who had not won on the Sunshine Tour before, Nortje said he was quite comfortable in Kitwe and felt no pressure. “Coming down the home stretch I was actually very comfortable hitting the ball. I actually had no nerves,” he said.

“On 13 there I got a bit of a flyer,” he said of the up-and-down he made there to save par, “and I hit it long and hit a pretty good chip from where I was and made a good putt. 14, I thought the wind was in to me so I hit it straight into the wind; hit it long again; got a bad lie and again the putter saved me.

He admits though that even as he was leading from the second round, he never thought he would run away with it. “Not really,” he said when quizzed about it in Kitwe. “You have to take it shot by shot because anything can happen, you can still lose it. You can’t just relax and think it’s done.”

Strydom also looked like he would snatch it away from Nortje but the three bogeys he made on six, nine and 10 took from the five birdies he made in the round. He eventually signed for two-under 70 to take his total to 16-under, two shots behind.

Sharing third spot was Alex Haindl and Oliver Bekker. The latter has been impressive lately but his 11-under for the tournament was not enough to earn him a third title this year.

But for Nortje a first victory is the sweetest he will ever have.

Scores:

270 - Riekus Nortje 65 67 70 68

272 - Ockie Strydom 65 70 67 70

277 - Alex Haindl 70 64 72 71, Oliver Bekker 64 74 68 71

278 - JJ Senekal 72 69 68 69, Jean Hugo 66 73 68 71

279 - Vaughn Groenewald 73 71 70 65, Jbe' Kruger 70 71 71 67, Rourke van der Spuy 72 66 71 70

280 - Martin Rohwer 71 74 67 68, Lyle Rowe 71 74 66 69

281 - Titch Moore 70 68 69 74

282 - Kyle Pilgrim 72 75 71 64, Jake Roos 70 72 69 71

283 - Andrew Odoh 72 72 70 69, Adilson Da Silva 69 70 73 71, Combrinck Smit 69 70 71 73

284 - Steve Surry 72 73 70 69, Madalitso Muthiya 70 71 72 71, Luke Jerling 77 66 70 71, MJ Viljoen 71 75 67 71, Damian Naicker 71 71 70 72, Ulrich van den Berg 68 73 70 73, Rhys West 70 71 69 74

285 - Merrick Bremner 67 77 73 68, Chris Swanepoel 73 72 71 69, Ruan de Smidt 73 71 71 70, Louis de Jager 73 69 71 72

286 - Teaghan Gauche 71 70 74 71, Lindani Ndwandwe 72 73 68 73, Ryan Cairns 71 74 67 74, Chris Lloyd 69 70 72 75

287 - Zack Byrd 74 72 72 69, Doug McGuigan 72 69 74 72, Coert Groenewald 74 70 69 74, Theunis Spangenberg 75 72 66 74, Colin Nel 68 71 73 75

288 - Neil Schietekat 73 72 73 70, Jason Viljoen 74 72 70 72

289 - Danie Van Niekerk 73 68 77 71, Peter Karmis 73 72 72 72, Daniel van Tonder 72 72 72 73, Andre de Decker 76 71 67 75

290 - Jacques Kruyswijk 72 72 76 70, Andre Nel 72 73 74 71, Herman Loubser 76 71 72 71, Jean-Paul Strydom 73 69 75 73, Justin Harding 73 75 69 73, N.J. Arnoldi 70 76 70 74, Andrew Curlewis 72 70 73 75

291 - Irvin Mazibuko 71 68 76 76

292 - Damon Stephenson 72 76 72 72, JC Ritchie 72 72 70 78

293 - Tyrone Ryan 73 70 75 75, Jared Harvey 72 74 71 76

294 - Roy Da Costa 73 75 73 73

295 - Andrew Georgiou 75 73 79 68

297 - Gabriel Chibale 71 77 73 76, Michael Palmer 75 73 72 77

305 - Richie O'Donovan 74 74 76 81

307 - Dwayne Basson 75 73 80 79

Read more on:    sunshine tour  |  zambia open  |  golf
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