JJ Senekal played his way into a four-man Zanaco Masters playoff and then outlasted them all to end a thrilling day in Zambia.
Senekal overcame a slow start (73) with a Friday 63 and then played his way into the playoff with weekend rounds of 70 and 68. A cheque of R317,000 went his way after he saw off the threat of Jaco Ahlers (68) with Andre De Decker and overnight leader Alex Haindl falling out of the running after the first hole.
De Decker had set the clubhouse lead with a 66, which included five birdies on the back nine as he played his way into the clubhouse without a bogey on Sunday.
Haindl, who led for the past 36 holes, doubled the 16th to lose his advantage but held his nerve to play his way into a four-way shot for the victory in the season-opener.
It was then left for Senekal to battle Ahlers for the title after they left Haindl and De Decker thinking what might’ve been after the first hole of the playoff.
Senekal’s approach on that final trip up 18, his fifth time on Sunday, was wayward and hit a spectator to go into the greenside bunker. And then he got mobbed after he chipped in. ‘First my caddie hugged me, and then the rest of the crowd hugged me,’ he laughed.
‘I lost my cap and a pair of glasses, but it was a special moment.’
It was the end to a draining hour. ‘It was way too long for me,’ said Senekal. ‘I told Jaco coming up 18 for the third time that I was not built for this. It was long, it was draining, it was a long week. We played together for the third and fourth rounds. It was a good battle for a couple of days.’
The victory gave him his biggest pay cheque on the Sunshine Tour, and his second title, like his first back in 2013 in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at St Francis Links, also came in a play-off where he bested Titch Moore.
Photo: Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images