Vaughn Groenewald ended his three-year winless run at the venue and tournament of his last victory when he won the Sun Wild Coast Challenge on the first playoff hole on Saturday.
He entered the final round trailing Adilson Da Silva – whom, along with Darren Fichardt and Hennie du Plessis made up the four-man playoff after finishing 16-under-par 194 in regulation – by a single shot on a total of 12-under. Groenewald last entered the winner’s circle in 2015 when he won the same tournament some three years ago.
‘The whole day I was just going with the motion, I was one-under and probably three or four shots behind,’ said Groenewald after his playoff win, talking about his thought process during the final round.
‘I wasn’t even thinking of the win. I was too far behind. But then I turned and I thought “well, let’s play for second or third”.’
A final round 66 catapulted him to a share of the top spot to force the tournament into a sudden death.
And, having fallen on the wayside on four other times before, he registered his first playoff win at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club this week. Unlike a few other times when he looked to be contending from early on in the tournament, this time, he went under the radar until the last couple of holes in regulation play.
‘I’ve been in a playoff, I think, four times before … but, this is the first I have won. I’m always happy for a win.’
Despite the challenges encountered prior to the start of this event, which saw some holes vandalised before the start of the tournament which led to a decision to play the tournament on just the front nine of the golf course – coupled with delays of tee times due to inclement weather at times, Groenewald wasn’t that bothered in Port Edward.
‘I love it here,’ he exclaimed. ‘I love the coast, I love this layout and I think I might just take up membership here.’
While he emerged as the winner at the end of it all, it was Fichardt who made the most of the forgiving weather conditions. He signed for a bogey-free eight-under-par 62 to secure himself a spot in the playoff. Da Silva, who was in the driving seat for the previous two rounds, thanks to an opening 63 that was followed by a 64, was just as solid. The youngest in that playoff, Du Plessis, put up a fight of his life, only to be let down by his missed birdie-putt in sudden death.
Over and above all the challenges faced this week, a spectacular golf tournament was served and a worthy contender triumphed.