Durban professional Johan Smit capped his debut in the PGA National Championship with a three-stroke victory at the Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate on Thursday.
Smit took a one-stroke lead into the final round and then closed with a 72 to win on four under in what is also his first year as a full PGA professional.
‘It’s fantastic. This win means the world to me. I came to win but didn’t think I could pull it off,’ said Smit, who wins the Denis Hutchinson trophy and takes home a cheque for R34 000.
Pretoria’s Henk Alberts, a former touring professional on the Sunshine Tour, took second place on one under with a final round of 73.
Smit had climbed to seven under par for the championship after his birdie at the 10th and was five shots clear with five holes to play.
But the Mount Edgecombe professional then bogeyed the par-five 14th when he drove into the hazard and then double-bogeyed the 17th.
‘I didn’t look at the leaderboard because I wanted to play my own game. On 14 there was a bit of a wait on the tee and I was too quick on my swing. And on 17 I think the nerves got the better of me. I hit a career-best six iron about 210 metres and it flew over the green and into a bush from where I had to take an unplayable lie.’
Surprisingly, Smit still hadn’t looked at a leaderboard and didn’t realise he was still ahead when he stepped onto the 18th tee.
‘I thought I was tied for the lead or something, so I did my best to make par there. As it turns out I was still quite a few shots ahead.’
By Michael Vlismas