JOHANNESBURG – Louis de Jager won his fifth Sunshine Tour title on Sunday when he took the Eye of Africa PGA Championship on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, to take his career playoff record to three out of three.
After finishing regulation play in a share of the lead on 12-under-par with Trevor Fisher Junior, the pair had to wait out a storm for nearly two hours before they could play their second shots on the playoff hole.
In the end, De Jager was able to win with a simple par on the par-four 18th, while Fisher made a bogey.
“I’m glad to keep my playoff record up, and I’m proud of that,” said De Jager. “During the delay, I knew what I had to do. So even though there was a lot of pressure, I was able to hit it really close to the hole, and I could just tap it in.”
The victory is easily the biggest in his career, coming as it did in the 96-year-old championship, which has had some of the greatest names in South African golf win it. “It’s a big trophy to have your name on. I’m really honoured. It’s been one of my goals, and it feels great to have achieved it,” he said.
The final round proved to be a difficult one for all the main protagonists, and Daniel Greene – who at one stage at the 13th held a three-stroke lead – fell out of contention with three bogeys in the final four holes to finish third.
Fisher bogeyed the par-three 16th, but pulled back that shot with a birdie on the par-five 17th, before making par on 18 and losing out in the playoff.
In response, De Jager had dragged himself into contention with successive birdies on 13 and 14, but bogeyed the 17th before forcing the playoff.
Louis de Jager triumphs at Eye of Africa PGA Championship 2019— Sunshine Tour (@Sunshine_Tour) February 3, 2019
Louis de Jager claimed his 5th victory on the Sunshine Tour after defeating Trevor Fisher Jnr at the 1st play-off hole at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship 2019.#EoAPGAChamps #SunshineTour #ItBeginsHere pic.twitter.com/JCS12qUJ1Y
“Today was a tricky day. Final days are always a bit tricky mentally. But I stayed steady and stuck to my processes,” he said.
“And even on the 17th hole where I made two bad swings and it nearly cost me, but I stayed patient and at the end of the day it was just enough.
“I had a good chance with the putt on the final hole in regulation to win. I wasn’t going to leave it short, but I hit it probably a foot too hard and it just didn’t take the break.”
It was the second victory of the 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season for De Jager, and with five other top-10s to his credit, he’s clearly the form man as the season draws to close.
African News Agency (ANA)