With his wife Keri on the bag, England’s Chris Paisley picked up the biggest cheque of his career at Glendower Country Club on Sunday when he won the 107th edition of the BMW SA Open.
What was supposed to be Branden Grace’s “big double” after winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City last November became the “big non-event” as the South African failed to build on his excellent 66 in the third round and a birdie-eagle start in his final round, eventually finishing in second place after a final round 68, and three off the pace.
After two holes, where he made a birdie-three and an eagle-three, it looked as if it was going to be Grace’s tournament, but he double bogeyed the par-three sixth and bogeyed the par-four 12th to fall out of contention. Not even a strong finish, which saw him make eagle at the par-five 13th, birdie at the par-five 15th and birdie at the par-four 16th could match Paisley’s efforts.
The Englishman didn’t let Grace’s fast start get to him and he produced a stunning, blemish-free round of golf, going round the course in six-under-par 66, following in the footsteps of countrymen Graeme Storm (2017) and Andy Sullivan (2015) to have won the SA Open title in recent years. Paisley made just three bogeys all week, to go with a whopping 24 birdies.
The best previous showings on the European Tour by the 31-year-old, who won twice while a student at the University of Tennessee and who turned professional in 2009, came at the BMW International Open (third in 2015), the Italian Open (third in 2016) and the Made in Denmark tournament (third last year).
In third place on his own was local player JC Ritchie who was in scintillating form over the weekend. He followed up a third round 65 with another 65 on Sunday for a total of 16-under-par, for his biggest payday, too. The 23-year-old banked R1.113-million for his efforts.
Sharing fourth place at 14-under-par were Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe and the South African duo of Jacques Blaauw and Jacques Kruyswijk.
Paisley pocketed R2.37-million with the win and ensures he will move significantly up the world rankings from his 289 at the start of the week.