It has been nearly three years since Jacques Blaauw won a Sunshine Tour tournament, and he put on a putting masterclass on Saturday to take the R700,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen Golf and Country Club on the first hole of a play-off with Theunis Spangenberg.
He carded a six-under-par 66 to draw level with Spangenberg, who signed for a 71, and then Blaauw made birdie at 18 in the play-off to edge the man who was trying to win a tournament on his home course.
And it could so easily have gone pear-shaped for Blaauw, after he made double-bogey on the opening hole of his round for the second time during the tournament. ‘After the start, I was thinking I was going to have one of those final days again,’ he said ‘but I kept my composure and I stuck to what I’ve been working on recently.
‘And the putter is working really nicely. I was pleased about that on the play-off hole. I had a putt of similar length to the one I had in regulation, and it was on exactly on the opposite side of the hole. So I knew the line. I was very happy when we walked up to the green and I saw the line. I hit it a bit wide in regulation play, and I hit this one just a little straighter and it was in the middle of the hole.’
For the early part of the final round, it looked for all the world as if Spangenberg was going to march to a simple win: He birdied the first two holes to pull clear of the chasing pack, but then a bogey on three – only his second of the week – brought him up short. Another at seven and a third at 13 negated any effect his two more birdies during the final round had.
Spangenberg also had a great duel going with Ruan de Smidt, who looked as he was going to pull clear when he made his third birdie of the round to get to 11-under, but consecutive bogeys on 16 and 17 saw him slip to a share of third.
For Blaauw, it all came together with an eagle on the sixth, after he had clawed back the two strokes he had dropped on the first with birdies on two and five. Once he made the eagle, there was no looking back, and he made four more birdies on his way in.
And he relished the feeling of winning again for the first time since November 2013. ‘It feels unbelievable,’ he said. ‘I came close during the last three years – very close. ‘I’ve started playing a little better lately, so getting a win now is a good feeling.’