GEORGE – Jaco Ahlers pulled away after the turn on Sunday to accelerate to a comfortable three-stroke victory in the Dimension Data Pro-am which at Fancourt on Sunday.
The George local made an eagle and three birdies in succession after the ninth on his was to a flawless eight-under-par 64 for a 20-under-par total to defeat second-placed Jean-Paul Strydom who cared a fine six-under 66 of his own. Ireland’s Neil O’Briain also shot 66 to finish third a further stroke back.
“Those five shots I picked up as I started the back nine were unbelievable,” said Ahlers. “I started with a great second shot with a rescue on 10 which I hit to three feet for the eagle. It was flushed perfectly, and I couldn’t have asked for a better shot.
“Then I made the putts on 11, 12 and 13 and from there it was almost cruise-mode. I could get away with hitting fairways, the middle of the green and two-putting all the way home. That made the difference.”
He started the day two shots off the overnight lead, and made his move early with three birdies in his opening five holes to pull clear of two other George locals, Tjaart van der Walt and Vaughn Groenewald who were unable to build on their third-round successes.
And once Ahlers had pulled clear with his stunning four holes after the turn, he was able to relax and savour the coming victory. “I’m naturally fairly conservative,” he said. “I was very comfortable playing percentage golf coming in, and that suited me perfectly.”
Strydom’s finish gave him his best-ever Sunshine Tour result, and the biggest cheque of his career, and he will take comfort from the fact that not many people would have been able to stop Ahlers once he picked up those five strokes. He worked hard to stay in touch with Ahlers after turning in 33, and picked up three more birdies to cement his spot.
O’Briain was flawless, and, after picking up four birdies in his first five holes, would have hoped for an even lower score. But he made eight consecutive pars before his next birdie, and then made just one more as he solidified his third place.
Behind him, five players shared fourth on 14-under: Dean Burmester, Francesco Laporta of Italy, Keith Horne, Germany’s Alexander Knappe, and Van der Walt.
For Ahlers, this was a big win. “I said before the tournament that if I was to only win one more tournament in my life, I’d like it to be this,” he said.
And it was big for more than just that reason. The winner of the Dimension Data Pro-Am always gets into the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. The opportunity to play in that will certainly set his heart racing. “This is pretty big. I’m really chuffed,” he said.”
African News Agency (ANA)