Sunshine Tour

Stunning Ritchie eagle brings Zanaco Masters playoff win

2019-04-07 17:57
JC Ritchie
JC Ritchie (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - He fought his way into a playoff with an incredible eagle on the last hole of regulation play on Sunday and then JC Ritchie made an unlikely birdie on the first playoff hole to take a thrilling victory in the Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club.

He drew level with Rhys Enoch of Wales with that eagle, and then survived an excursion into the hospitality marquee at the par-five 18th in the playoff to sink a nine-footer for birdie and take his fourth Sunshine Tour title after a roller-coaster of a final round in which Enoch appeared to have the upper hand for most of the day.

“I backed off the approach to 18 in regulation play,” said Ritchie.

“I had 174 to the flag and I was straight in between an eight and a nine. I asked my caddie, ‘Am I trying to make birdie or am I trying to win the tournament?’ We decided that if I jumped on a nine-iron, I could get it there. We could cover the bunker and I absolutely flushed it straight at the pin. It was all or nothing at that point.

“The playoff was tricky. I didn’t think I had a chance after Rhys hit his drive miles up the fairway - it was probably 70 yards by me. I had an extra 40 metres further than I had in regulation play. After putting it in the tent, I just tried to give myself a chance because I’m putting really well. I feel for Rhys three-putting the last, because that’s not the way you want to win it, but that’s the way it goes.”

Enoch had played the front nine as well as anyone in the final round, turning in two-under 33 without dropping a shot, while Ritchie had made three bogeys and a birdie to find the overnight lead he had held had evaporated into nothing.

“Today was the weirdest round of golf I’ve played in a while,” said Ritchie.

“It just felt as if it didn’t want to go my way for the front nine. I was hitting the ball so well. I felt like I didn’t miss a shot and made three bogeys from nowhere.

“Then I really just got on a run and it seemed to fall into place on the back nine. I was five-under after the 15th and I was playing really nicely.

“Then on 16, we had a bit of a mix-up with the wind and the club. A huge gust of wind came up and I dumped it in the water. I thought it was pretty much done and I thought Rhys was going to get it to 19-under, as he was playing such good golf today. I missed a short birdie putt on 17 and I really didn’t think I had another chance.

“Making eagle with that pin on 18 was a big ask. Lots of guys were saying I am one of the only guys this week who could stop it at that pin, so to be able to pull that shot off and to make the putt - I don’t have words.”

Rookie Garrick Higgo capped a fine tournament with a closing four-under 69 to share third with England’s Chris Cannon, who closed with a three-under 70.

For Ritchie, if you include the Team Championships which he won with Jaco Strydom, this was the fourth victory in nine months, and his second in the space of the last month - he took the Sun Carnival City Challenge in August, the Limpopo Championship at the beginning of March and now this one in Zambia for his second title outside South Africa after his maiden victory in Zimbabwe in 2017.

“Africa has been an absolute blessing to me,” he said.

“Every time I come out here, I feel at home. The fans are amazing. I love Africa - I’ll always keep coming back.”

Scores:


274 - JC Ritchie 70 68 66 70, Rhys Enoch 68 65 75 66 (Ritchie won at the first playoff hole)


276 - Garrick Higgo 71 69 67 69, Chris Cannon 70 71 65 70


277 - Luke Jerling 68 71 68 70


278 - Daniel van Tonder 72 69 67 70


279 - Pieter Moolman 71 70 72 66


280 - Ryan Cairns 69 74 68 69, Adilson Da Silva 71 69 70 70, Merrick Bremner 73 68 68 71, Michael Palmer 71 72 65 72


281 - Ruan de Smidt 72 70 70 69, Jaco Prinsloo 65 74 71 71, Thriston Lawrence 72 67 71 71, Ross McGowan 70 68 68 75


282 - Trevor Fisher Jnr 71 72 71 68, JJ Senekal 69 70 71 72, Jaco Ahlers 68 66 72 76


283 - Rhys West 70 69 72 72


284 - Vaughn Groenewald 72 74 68 70, Sean Bradley 70 72 69 73, Tristen Strydom 69 70 70 75


285 - Jbe' Kruger 73 70 72 70, Luke Joy 74 72 69 70, Rourke van der Spuy 67 70 77 71, Anthony Michael 72 69 71 73


286 - Jean Hugo 72 70 71 73, Keith Horne 69 73 70 74


287 - Makhetha Mazibuko 74 70 73 70, Scott Campbell 73 70 73 71, Ruan Huysamen 73 73 70 71, Deon Germishuys 71 70 73 73, Kyle McClatchie 66 77 71 73


288 - Jake Roos 73 73 73 69, Andre Nel 73 71 70 74, Peetie van der Merwe 72 69 72 75, Lyle Rowe 70 74 68 76


289 - MJ Viljoen 71 74 72 72, Ruan Conradie 71 74 71 73, Hennie Otto 73 70 71 75


290 - Andrew van der Knaap 71 72 75 72, Titch Moore 70 72 73 75, Louis Albertse 70 74 70 76, Madalitso Muthiya 71 71 71 77


291 - Roberto Lupini 72 70 77 72, Philip Geerts 73 73 72 73, Steve Surry 70 74 73 74, Chris Swanepoel 67 72 77 75, Riekus Nortje 74 71 70 76


292 - Tyrone Ryan 73 71 75 73, Jonathan Agren 71 75 73 73


293 - Jacques Blaauw 74 72 76 71, Martin Rohwer 75 70 71 77


294 - Fredrik From 73 70 78 73, Bennie van der Merwe 74 71 75 74, Duane Keun 74 70 73 77, Darin de Smidt 72 73 72 77


297 - Michael Hollick 73 73 77 74, Jason Diab 73 72 77 75


298 - Sydney Wemba 71 73 81 73, Toto Thimba 70 76 78 74


299 - Herman Loubser 71 73 77 78


301 - Mwalikwa Sondashi 70 75 78 78


302 - Matt Bright 73 72 79 78


305 - Juran Dreyer 72 74 81 78

Read more on:    sunshine tour  |  zanaco masters  |  jc ritchie  |  golf

 

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