Pretoria – A winning weekend has brought about a complete change in fortune for golfer Dawie van der Walt, allowing him to set goals again after considering quitting the sport at one stage.
The 30-year-old South African registered the biggest win of his career on Sunday at Tshwane Open, pocketing a prize four times more than his combined previous earnings on the European Tour in the process.
More importantly, it offers a new lease on the career of a golfer whose past achievements can only be described as a journeyman existence.
“You can only imagine what it's like to win such a big one,” said Van der Walt after he finished with a five-under-par 67 for a 21 under-par total of 267.
It meant a two-stoke win and a 237,750 euro ($308,700) first prize in the last of the six European Tour-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa.
“You start doubting yourself and at 30-years-old you start to wonder if you're good enough and this shows me that I am. I would have liked to win before 30, but I'll definitely take this,” he said, having missed the cut in the three previous European Tour events.
The burly Van der Walt, who is American-based after playing collegiate golf there, had been set to return to the U.S. to play minor tour events. His vistas now are wide open, illustrating how fortunes can swiftly change.
“I don't know what I'll do yet. The purses are a lot bigger on the European Tour, so I'll have to rethink some things.”
Van der Walt, one of four co-leaders at the start of the last round, admitted his previous disappointments meant he had tempered his ambition on the final morning.
“I have been in with a chance of winning before but I haven't been able to pull it through so I woke up thinking the objective was not to get ahead of myself.
“Golf is a game where you don't get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic.
“I'm just really happy that I played well and won, because you can play well and not win.”
The two-metre, 114kg Van der Walt says he will now treat himself to a business class ticket to the U.S.
“Economy class with these long legs of mine is quite a mission,” he told reporters. – Reuters