Dan Bradbury secured a life-changing wire-to-wire victory at the Joburg Open to claim his maiden DP World Tour title in just his third start, and with it a place at The 151st Open Championship.
The 23-year-old Englishman, who only turned professional in the summer, came into the week with no status on any tour but made the most of a sponsor’s invite at Houghton Golf Club, clinching a magnificent three-shot win as the 2023 season got off to a memorable start.
Having gone into the final round with a narrow one-stroke lead, Bradbury produced a brilliant display of frontrunning on Sunday, stretching his lead throughout the day before signing for a closing 67 to finish the tournament on 21 under par.
Bradbury carded five birdies, with his only blemish coming at the final hole, but the highlight of his round was a par-saving chip-in at the sixth which kept the chasing pack at bay at a crucial moment.
Sami Välimäki finished alone in second on 18 under, one shot ahead of Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Daniel van Tonder in a tie for third.
Bradbury said: "It won't sink in for a few days, I don't think.
"It's just a lot of pressure taken off your back - that's nice - but it hasn't sunk in yet and I don't think it will for a while.
"I was a bit worried there on the 15th when Välimäki rolled that monster in but it was kind of the same thing all week, just keep playing my own game and I knew I was playing good enough.
"It turned out that way in the end."
Speaking about his mother being there to witness the win, he added: "It made it a little bit more special."
Bradbury made a stunning start on Sunday, coming agonisingly close to holing his approach at the first for an eagle.
After safely tapping in his birdie putt there, he picked up another shot at the third from close range.
But he looked in danger of surrendering his lead after getting into tree trouble at the par-four sixth.
It took Bradbury three shots to get to the fairway just short of the green but he chipped in from there for a miraculous par, which kept him two clear of a charging Bezuidenhout.
The Englishman gave himself outside birdie chances at the seventh and eighth but had to settle for pars there before holing his quick birdie putt from around 25 feet at the par-three ninth to head to the turn with a commanding three-shot lead.
Bradbury kept his foot on the gas as he started the back nine, setting up birdie chances at the tenth, 11th and 12th, and although he could not convert them, he remained three clear with six holes left.
His first birdie of the back nine arrived at the 13th as he span a delightful approach shot to a matter of feet before rolling in the putt to move to 21 under par.
Bradbury missed the green at the short 14th but got up and down for a gutsy par to avoid a two-shot swing, as playing partner Välimäki made his birdie putt there to get within three once more.
Välimäki applied yet more pressure with another birdie at the 15th but Bradbury responded with a superb tee-shot at the par-three 16th and holed his birdie putt from around seven feet to climb to 22 under.
With both Bradbury and Välimäki parring the 17th, the Englishman took a three-shot lead to the last.
Despite a closing bogey, Bradbury closed out a phenomenal victory, booking his ticket to The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2023 as part of The Open Qualifying Series, along with Välimäki and Bezuidenhout.
Bradbury was grateful for the invite which enabled him to tee it up this week.
He said: "It means the world, I wouldn't be stood here without it. I wouldn't have anywhere to play this year really without it.
"It's been life-changing now. So hopefully I make the most of it."