Stoop swoops to hard-earned win in IGT Germiston[Thursday, April 12, 2018 07:10:10]
It was a victory that was a long time coming, and when it did, former Springbok Hendrikus Stoop struggled to put into words what it meant to claim his first victory in four years in a play-off in the IGT Challenge Germiston on Wednesday.
“This is massive. It wipes away all the blood, sweat and tears of the last three years. I can’t explain how happy I am right now;” was all the elated Tshwane golfer could manage.
James Pennington looked on course to claim a wire-to-wire victory at Germiston Golf Club, but Stoop birdied the final hole for a six-under-par 66 to grab a share of the lead on 10-under. The Swaziland rookie finished with a par and signed for a final round 69, which sent the pair back to the par three 18th for a sudden-death play-off.
“We halved the 18th in pars the first time around,” explained Stoop.
“On our second trip, James caught the bunker and I left myself about 22 foot above the hole. He splashed out to 12 foot below the hole. I thought briefly about lagging it close, but then I decided to go for the putt and I holed it.
“I’m elated, absolutely elated. The last time I lifted a trophy was my IGT Challenge Tour breakthrough in 2014, the same year I won twice as an amateur in the Eastern Cape. It’s been such a long, hard road back and this validates everything I went through. It was all worth it.”
Stoop’s victory was built on a fast start of four birdies in his opening five holes, which did a lot to calm the nerves of a golfer who has been pushing hard to come back.
The back nine was messy with bogeys at 10, 12 and 14, but Stoop rallied after every setback, firing birdies at 11 and 15. An eagle at the par five 13th kept him in contention as he parred his way to the final hole, where he saw Pennington’s drive disappear into the trees on 17.
“I holed an 18-footer for birdie at 11, hit a 7-iron with a big draw into 13 and boxed a short putt for eagle and drained a 19 foot birdie putt at 15,” said Stoop.
“James had to punch out and I knew he would battle to up and down for par, which meant a birdie-finish could get me into a play-off or I could win it outright. Either way, I had to make two at the last hole. I hit a six-iron to 18 foot and boxed the putt.
“I have matured a lot in the last three years and mentally, I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my career. Most of it is down to my coach Patrick O’Brian. He held my hand every step as we rebuilt my swing.”
The 27-year-old was a top 10 ranked amateur who represented South Africa abroad, but back injuries continuously impeded his progress.
“I suffered massively with my back, especially after I came back from the GolfRSA National Squad Tour to the United Kingdom,” he explained. “I went to several coaches, but no-one could help me until I met up with Patrick. He gave it to me straight.
“He could help me build a new swing but I needed to invest three years. There was no quick fix and if I didn’t have the staying power, I should give up the game. I still thought six months at the max, but I can honestly say that was the toughest experience I’ve ever been through. We built a swing from the ankles right up the next and like he said, it’s taken three years.
“I was really excited when I finished third in an IGT Challenge Tour event early in the year, but I still wasn’t competitive enough to take that swing to Q-School. I was gutted when I missed at First Stage, but Patrick just told me to believe. He said the swing is good and the win is coming.”
And the win came, despite the fact that Stoop had to use a 3-wood off the tee in the final round.
“The driver broke on the range last night and I didn’t have a choice, but Patrick was right; I trusted the swing and it carried me to the winner’s circle,” he said. “I love this game and I live for the fight. With the new Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour, I have a chance to get onto the Sunshine Tour. I want to make the most of this life-line, especially after this win.”
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA.
206 - Hendrikus Stoop 71 69 66 (won at 2nd play-off hole)
206 - James Pennington (SWA) 67 70 69
210 - Maverick Faber AMA (FRA) 71 71 68
211 - Dylan Mostert 68 72 71
213 - Leon Visser 75 71 67, Leon Vorster 73 67 73
214 - Keaton Slatter AMA 71 67 76
215 - Kyle Barker 75 68 72
216 - Romano Saincic 71 75 70, Ruan Groenewald 70 75 71, Michael Kok 73 71 72
217 - Bradley Diggeden AMA 71 72 74, Michiel Bothma 68 74 75
219 - CJ Levey 76 70 73, Bryce Myburgh 74 67 78
220 - Gary Daoust (BEL) 73 73 74, Divan Marais 71 68 81
221 - Keanu Pestana AMA 71 80 70, Duan Nagel AMA 77 73 71, Jonathan George AMA 74 75 72, Ruhan Van Dijk 69 71 81
223 - Stephan Erasmus 77 75 71, Quintin Crause 75 69 79
224 - John McClean (NIR) 76 76 72, Fritz Orren AMA 72 77 75, Neville Mitchell AMA 75 74 75
225 - Mpho Mafishe 74 74 77
226 - Stephan Du Toit AMA 71 74 81
227 - Massimo Roch AMA (CAN) 76 76 75
228 - Nico Du Buisson 71 76 81
229 - Tyron Taylor AMA 80 72 77, Divan De Villiers AMA 76 73 80
230 - Kelsey Nicholas 79 72 79, Shaun van Tonder 74 76 80
233 - Landon Ferguson AMA 78 71 84
237 - Chase Paton AMA 72 80 85