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The debrief: Joburg Open and Fortinet Australian PGA Championship

The debrief: Joburg Open and Fortinet Australian PGA Championship

Here are the highlights from the double-header of season-opening events in South Africa and Australia.

Bradbury Joburg Open-1444940215

Dan Bradbury claimed a life-changing maiden DP World Tour title, booking one of three spots on offer into The Open, while Cameron Smith won on home soil in an entertaining week at both the Joburg Open and Fortinet Australian PGA Championship

Here, we take a look at the highlights of the week across two different continents at Houghton Golf Club and Royal Queensland Golf Club.

Bradbury celebrates dream win in Joburg

There is really only one place to start the first debrief of the 2023 season… sponsors invite Bradbury completed a remarkable wire-to-wire victory at the Joburg Open to claim his maiden title in just his third event on the DP World Tour. The 23-year-old from Wakefield, who turned professional in the summer, had no playing status worldwide heading into the tournament but has now secured a two-year exemption on the DP World Tour. With victory, the Florida State University graduate has also secured a place in the field for The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool next year as part of The Open Qualifying Series. Bradbury was under pressure on the final day at Houghton Golf Club but performed with the same fearless attitude that had seen him lead after the first three days. The Englishman carded five birdies and a solitary bogey at the final hole to card a closing 67 and win by three shots from Sami Välimäki, with his mother watching on. Speaking at the trophy presentation, he said his chip-in for par at the sixth was the turning point of his round. “I hadn’t really hit a bad shot until that point and then decided to hit three in a row so making that was really nice and kept a bit of distance from the others," he said. “They all put up a good fight and the leaderboard was a lot tighter than I wanted it to be but luckily, I had a couple of shots to spare on the last.”

Trio seal spots at The 151st Open

Bradbury was not the only player to book his place in the field for next summer’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Runner-up Välimäki will also make his debut at golf’s oldest tournament, while Christiaan Bezuidenhout secured the third and final spot on offer in the first event of The Open Qualifying Series for the 2023 edition.

Smith wins on home soil

Over in Australia, Cameron Smith won the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship for the third time. The Australian carded a final-round 68 to finish three shots clear of Jason Scrivener and Ryo Hisatsune. “I really didn’t think I had it in me this week to be honest,” he said. “The start of the week was a little bit scratchy and the game just got better and better as the week went on, other than the front nine today.”

Scott entertains his home crowd

Adam Scott was a home favourite delighted to be back playing in Australia last week. The 2013 Masters Tournament winner certainly gave the fans in Brisbane something to cheer about with a long-range birdie putt at the par-three 17th during the second round. There was a party atmosphere on that hole all week and the former World Number One was delighted to play his part in entertaining the crowds.

Fox gets new season under way

Just days after finishing second on the 2022 DP World Tour season-long rankings, Ryan Fox was given the honour of hitting the opening tee shot of the new season. After a quick turnaround following the DP World Tour Championship, the Kiwi got things under way from the tenth tee at 6am local time on Thursday morning. Speaking ahead of the event in midweek, he admitted things were a “blur” after a hectic journey from Dubai which included a six-hour stopover in Auckland to drop off his family. The Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca Rankings winner Nathan Kimsey had the same privilege later that day at the Joburg Open.

Good vibes only

The first two events of the 2023 season were both weather-affected at times but there was no dimming the enthusiasm of those watching on, if these moves by one of the volunteers in Australia is anything to go by.

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