Playing in the last group out for the third week running, Jaco van Zyl finally made it pay with a one shot victory in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt Golf and Country Estate.
His 17 under par total of 272 held off the challenge of England’s Daniel Brooks with his final round two under par 70 around the Montagu course, with Dean Burmester, Wallie Coetzee, Trevor Fisher Junior and Hennie Otto a further two strokes back on 275.
That final round wrapped up a tournament played over three courses with a round on each of The Links, Montagu and Outeniqua before the last one on Montagu.
“You kind of feel you need to close at least one of them off,” said Van Zyl of his victory, “so I definitely felt a lot of pressure coming up the stretch.”
Just the previous week, he’d had to endure Darren Fichardt pulling away from him to win the Africa Open, and there were times when he must have thought history would repeat itself.
It seemed especially tense when he made bogeys on the fifth and then again on the 14th, both of which allowed Brooks to draw level with him. But Brooks was undergoing similar pressures, and bogeys late in his round on the 13th and 15th eventually cost him the shot at victory.
On a day during which some players were to go low – France’s Alexander Levy carded a seven under 65, for instance – Van Zyl admitted that his ability to score had been affected by pressure. He had, after all made four under on Outeniqua and equalled the course record at The Links with his brilliant nine under par 64.
But the course he called “the fairest test in South Africa” before he teed off in his final round didn’t make things easy either.
“The fairways were a little spongy so the ball never really sat up nicely,” he said, “and you go in with quite a few long irons to flags that were tucked away, so unless you were rolling in quite a few long putts, you don’t have that many opportunities to score.”
Van Zyl started the round in a share of the lead with Otto, who had an unhappy final day after being consistent for the first three rounds: he made a triple-bogey six on the second, and a bogey five on the sixth, before a run of three consecutive birdies after the turn saw him come back into contention.
Van Zyl had every reason to be pleased with his ability to withstand the pressure – and one of those reasons was a regained confidence going in to next week’s Tshwane Open.
“I’ve been getting better every week, and I’m looking forward the European Tour co-sanctioned event in Tshwane,” he said.