De Decker downs Palmer in marathon Swazi play-off

[Friday, August 03, 2018 21:47:09]

He had a chance to win it in regulation on Friday, but in the end, it took Andre de Decker five extra holes before he was able to lift his first Sunshine Tour trophy as he won the Royal Swazi Spa Challenge.

He downed Michael Palmer on the fifth play-off hole after they both finished on 16-under-par 200 after 54 holes of regulation play in the R800,000 tournament – but a bogey on 17 nearly cost him the title.

“I hit a great drive down the left of the 17th fairway,” said De Decker, “and it just caught a tree, and came back about 60 metres, so I had about 120-metre difference for my normal approach. I had to lay up.”

In the end, he three-putted on 17 and let Palmer, a winner two weeks ago in Kenya who had eagled 17 on his way to a brilliant 64, in to the play-off.

They went to the par-three 18th three more times, and were unable to find a winner. On to the 10th, and Palmer’s approach to the short par-four through a deep valley hit the flag and dropped three feet from the pin. But he was unable to convert the chance.

Instead, it gave De Decker a chance to hit his tee shot on 18 (again!) to 10 feet, and, when Palmer was in trouble in the greenside bunker from which he was unable to extricate himself, De Decker coolly rammed home the winning putt.

“It’s very tough going through five extra holes,” said De Decker. “I felt it got a little easier as it went on, and it helped that I was playing with Michael, who is a good friend. I was thinking of the previous play-off I was in in Zambia when I lost to JJ Senekal and how I didn’t want a repeat of that.”

The victory meant the world to him. “This is huge,” he said. “I’ve just got back from the United States. I came back with the intention of getting at least one trophy. It means so much to finally get that win and I’m excited for what the future holds because this year has been trending in the right direction. To see hard work paying off is awesome.”

Just one stroke behind the play-off par were Michael Hollick and Louis de Jager, with Rourke van der Spuy, Keenan Davidse and Keith Horne a further stroke back in a share of fifth.

For De Decker, it was his A-game which got him the win after what he felt were B-game performances in the first two rounds. “It was close to it in the first 12 holes,” he said. “I started really hot, and form there, it was just trying to birdie every hole.”

That A-game was more than enough.

Scores:

200 - Andre De Decker 67 67 66

200 - Michael Palmer 69 67 64

201 - Michael Hollick 70 66 65, Louis de Jager 68 67 66

202 - Rourke van der Spuy 69 70 63, Keith Horne 72 67 63, Keenan Davidse 70 64 68

204 - Shaun Norris 68 70 66, Titch Moore 70 68 66, Ruan de Smidt 72 66 66, Thriston Lawrence 72 64 68

205 - Tyrone Ryan 70 69 66, Merrick Bremner 71 67 67, Daniel van Tonder 67 70 68

206 - Colin Nel 68 71 67, Jean Hugo 72 65 69

207 - Breyten Meyer 69 72 66, Daniel Greene 72 67 68

208 - Chris Swanepoel 74 67 67, JC Ritchie 72 68 68, Tyrone Ferreira 70 70 68, Riekus Nortje 72 67 69

209 - Jake Roos 70 71 68

210 - Anton Haig 70 71 69, Heinrich Bruiners 71 70 69, Mark Williams 68 72 70, Jake Redman 73 66 71, Christiaan Basson 68 70 72

211 - Doug McGuigan 65 76 70, Tyler Hogarty 71 70 70, JJ Senekal 69 70 72, Jared Harvey 71 68 72, Theunis Bezuidenhout 68 71 72

212 - Jean-Paul Strydom 71 70 71, James Pennington 72 69 71, Duane Keun 73 68 71, Musiwalo Nethunzwi 67 73 72, Wayne Stroebel 71 69 72, Chris Cannon 70 68 74

213 - Ulrich van den Berg 70 71 72, Scott Campbell 73 67 73, Toto Thimba 74 65 74

214 - Jacquin Hess 73 67 74

217 - Marthin Scheepers 70 71 76

 

Credit: The Sunshine Tour 


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