Van der Berg snatches win at Humewwod
Ulrich van den Berg drove right through a glimmer of an opening offered him and snatched the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf event at Humewood Golf Club from Daniel Greene on Friday.
Van den Berg saw a tiny gap on the 17th when Greene put his third into the bunker behind the green, and had to play his bunker shot out sideways to be left with a 40-footer for par.
Greene three-putted, and the two-stroke lead he had so carefully crafted on a difficult final round in pursuit of his maiden win in his rookie season on the Sunshine Tour had evaporated.
"I feel a bit sad for Daniel," said Van den Berg, "because I have been in that situation before, and it really makes you feel empty. But I'm sure he will be in this position again, and he'll win."
Greene still had a chance to salvage something from his final-round four-over 76 on the final hole, after a pulled drive, a second into a pot bunker at the back of the 18th, and a 22-foot putt left four feet short.
Van den Berg incredibly saw a three-footer for par horseshoe out.
"It would have been nice to have seen that putt go in and I could have won it rather than Daniel lose it," he said.
Greene's four-footer to get him into a playoff went past the hole on the left, and Van den Berg had won his first Sunshine Tour title since the 2007 Origins of Golf Bloemfontein event.
Greene was understandably angry at himself afterwards, after his opening 10-under 62 and his following seven-under 65 had put him on the inside track for victory.
But his second place has cemented his position as the Sunshine Tour's leading rookie, as well as made him a reputation as a tough customer.
For Van den Berg, it was a tough day which was redemption for two of the toughest years of his life: He lost a baby, his father to cancer and his European card, and life seemed very dark.
"This year, my motivation's been up," he said. "I've been practicing hard and I've been able to start breathing again, and that makes a big difference emotionally.
"I was able to get out there and fight when things were a little tough," he added.
The day started tough with a fierce easterly wind ripping across Humewood, but that soon settled, and Van den Berg started chipping away at Greene's lead.
They each turned in two-over 37, and then Van den Berg turned the screws with birdies on 10 and 12.
They each birdied the 15th, and when Greene birdied the 16th which Van den Berg scrambled a par out of a fairway bunker, it all seemed set for Greene to win.
But then came the 17th, and Van den Berg's experience was ultimately the deciding factor, and he gratefully took the gap Greene offered. - Sapa