Patience was the name of the game on Friday as Jaco Ahlers took his fifth Sunshine Tour title, winning the R700,000 Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge by three strokes.
While all about him were dropping shots, he made four birdies and no bogeys in his final round of four-under-par 66 at the 5,807 par-70 Wild Coast Sun Country Club, finishing on 17-under-par 193 ahead of Ruan de Smidt and Danie van Tonder.
‘I hit the ball well all day,’ said Ahlers. ‘I didn’t make any amazing putts, but I birdied all the par-fives, and that’s what you want – problem-free golf Winning’s never easy, but it was nice to get on 17 and see that I had a three-shot lead. That made a bit of a difference – and a win’s a win! I’m chuffed.’
For much of the day, it looked as if Van Tonder was going to run away with things: He reached the turn in five-under-par 30, but he immediately dropped two shots in a row on 10 and 11. He recovered with an eagle on 12 and a birdie on 13, but then he finished with three bogeys in succession to fall out of contention.
While Van Tonder was undoing all the good work of his earlier charge, Ahlers was hanging in there, and, having made birdie on 12, he then made his fourth of the day on the par-five 16th, and that was the beginning of the end. “I had a three-wood in for two into the wind with water everywhere,” said Ahlers, “and I hit a pretty decent shot and made a two-putt birdie, and that turned things
‘I had a three-wood in for two into the wind with water everywhere,’ said Ahlers, ‘and I hit a pretty decent shot and made a two-putt birdie, and that turned things around, because Danie made bogey at about the same time up ahead.’
Ahlers’ round was all the more impressive when it is borne in mind that only one other player kept a clean sheet, and that was Rourke van der Spuy, who also made four birdies and climbed to 10-under for the tournament and a share of seventh place. There were three players who went lower: Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya, Sweden’s Jonathan Agren and South African Merrick Bremner each fired five-under-par 65s.
For Ahlers, the win has turned a year that started off looking pretty average into a good one. ‘It didn’t go well in the beginning of the year,’ he said, ‘but then I won in Zambia, and since then I’ve played pretty well without finishing one off. It’s nice to get that done.’