JC Ritchie made it back-to-back wins on the European Challenge Tour after he secured a wire-to-wire six-shot victory at the Jonsson Workwear Open and with it, moves to Number One on the Road to Mallorca Rankings.
The ten-time Sunshine Tour winner posted a one under par final round of 71 at Durban Country Club to reach 26 under par and claim his second victory in as many weeks after successfully defending his Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open title last week.
Ritchie admitted he found it much tougher today but remained resilient to record two closing birdies and finish six shots clear of Belgium’s Christopher Mivis, who at one stage came within touching distance of the lead, reducing Ritchie’s advantage to two after an eagle at the 14th hole.
“It was tough out there today,” he said. “I’ve never played this golf course with this much wind before so I knew it was going to be different and the golf course showed its teeth today. I found it tough early on but luckily towards the end of the round I was able to figure it out and get the job done.
“My girlfriend came up to me after the 14th hole and asked me if I wanted to know the scores,” he added. “She told me Mivis was 22 under and that surprised me. I had a game plan for the last three holes for the week and that was to make par at 16 and run, I felt like I could create a birdie opportunity at 17 and then 18 owed me one. I wanted to birdie it yesterday but found a bad lie in the bunker. Getting two birdies on the way home made it extra special.”
The 28-year-old was delighted to record back-to-back Challenge Tour victories and after finishing 24th on the 2021 Road to Mallorca Rankings, he understands the importance of getting an early advantage over his competitors.
“It feels special to win back-to-back on the Challenge Tour,” he said. “Playing the whole of last year on the Challenge Tour, I know how tough it is and you could rock up thinking that five under par will be enough to win and someone will shoot 20 under par. To beat these guys means everything to me and shows how far I’ve come.
“This gives me a lot of confidence for the season. I have always felt my game was good enough to win in Europe and take the next step.”
Mivis posted a six under par round of 66 to claim second place for the second consecutive week, one shot ahead of Iceland’s Haraldur Magnus who claimed third place on 19 under par. Englishman Ross McGowan and South African duo Jaco Prinsloo and Keenan Davidse shared fourth place on 16 under par.
Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin shared seventh place with Frenchman David Ravetto on 15 under, while England’s Steven Tiley, Swede Mikael Lindberg and South African Hennie Otto finished in a tie for ninth place on 14 under par.
Ritchie moves to the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings following back-to-back victories, while Alexander Knappe occupies second position following his victory at the season-opening Dimension Data Pro-Am. Mivis moves into third on the Rankings, while Daniel Hillier and McKibbin complete the top five.
The Road to Mallorca now heads to Bloemfontein for the Mangaung Open, taking place at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club from March 3-6, 2022.