Johannesburg - It took a towering nine-iron from 165 metres out on the 18th at Dainfern Country Club from Jaco Prinsloo on Saturday to set up an eagle and a one-stroke victory for him and JC Ritchie in the Team Championship.
They carded a superb 27-under-par 189 for the three rounds - fourball in round one, foursomes in round two, and the concluding fourball.
The pair had trailed Jacques Blaauw and Merrick Bremner - or been level with them - throughout the final round of fourball betterball play. And with Blaauw and Bremner both missing their second shots to the par-five 18th green, an eagle was going to give them at least a share of the spoils after regulation play.
“The eagle on 18 was a very special shot,” said Prinsloo. “It was made easier for me by JC’s approach. It was quite difficult shot and he hit a magnificent shot. The people won’t talk about that one, but he made my shot so much easier. He freed me up and let me go straight at the flag.”
Ritchie had a tough approach out of the rough. “I was pretty much just trying to miss the trees,” he said. “I had to hit a big fade around them just to get it on the green.”
Ritchie’s ball pitched and bounced almost straight right with the fade, and settled 15 feet from the pin. Then came Prinsloo’s approach which landed 10 feet in front of the pin and rolled to just a foot away.
With Bremner long and left behind the green, and Blaauw way right and in a seemingly impossible position, the title was slipping from their grasp. They both tried valiantly to get up and down, but both their birdie putts - from outside 25 feet - slid by the hole, leaving Prinsloo to tap in for victory.
Anton Haig and Tyrone Ferreira finished with two consecutive birdies to edge into third place, with Christiaan Basson and Jake Roos a further shot back in fourth. In fifth, Ruan de Smidt and Wynand Dingle produced the round of the day with a 12-under-par 60 to finish on 22-under-par 194, five behind the champions.
For Prinsloo and Ritchie, it was redemption after they missed the cut in last year’s inaugural holding of the tournament.
“We came here on a mission,” said Prinsloo. “I think I let JC down last year. It was nice to come out here and play well and have him with me and supporting me all the way. We played great together and it’s good to be the champions. Ritchie was quick to acknowledge the contribution of his team-mate, who made all three eagles in the round which won them the title. “I need to organise him a back massage pretty soon, because he carried me pretty much the whole week,” he said.
189 - J Prinsloo & JC Ritchie 61 66 62
190 - J Blaauw & M Bremner 62 65 63
192 - A Haig & T Ferreira 63 66 63
193 - C Basson & J Roos 63 67 63
194 - R de Smidt & W Dingle 63 71 60
195 - MJ Viljoen & O Strydom 63 71 61, D Greene & J Redman 59 72 64, P Geerts & J Buitendag 64 65 66
196 - D van Tonder & T Tree 66 68 62, R van der Spuy & JP Strydom 62 70 64, A Beckley & K McClatchie 64 68 64, B Follett-Smith & S Ferreira 64 66 66
197 - A Van der Knaap & L Jerling 62 71 64, A Michael & R Tipping 63 70 64, M Palmer & T Ryan 63 69 65, J de Villiers & A Versfeld 64 67 66, J Hugo & H Du Plessis 58 73 66
198 - B Meyer & C Mowat 67 68 63
199 - R Nortje & P Moolman 66 70 63, D McGuigan & H Otto 65 69 65
201 - T Thimba & M Carvell 65 71 65, J Smith & W Stroebel 64 69 68, J Ahlers & V Groenewald 62 69 70
204 - C Groenewald & D Moore 64 71 69