A team win last week, a solo win this week. It’s good to be JC Ritchie after his triumph at the inaugural Limpopo Championship.
Ritchie and Jaco Prinsloo combined at last week’s Team Championship at Dainfern but it was all down to the former at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle estate.
The 25-year-old came home in 30 strokes, including a birdie birdie finish for a 65, to set the clubhouse score with only England’s Steve Surry and Andrew van der Knaap able to catch him.
The Englishman held his nerve to birdie the 72nd hole but Van der Knaap failed to join Ritchie and Surry (67) in a playoff back down 18.
Ritchie then turned on the class to dial in his approach to five feet as he left himself the same putt he had in regulation play to win after Surry was forced to lay up with his second.
Surry piled on the pressure with an exquisite pitch to force Ritchie to putt first. The drama for the week was all played out as Ritchie calmly stroked home his eagle effort to win the tournament.
‘It started off tough, very slow and it didn’t look like it was going anywhere,’ said Ritchie.
‘But, to turn on the fire on the back nine like I did means a lot more to me than people may think.
‘After nine holes I had a good talking to myself. I had to do a bit of a game-change. In the beginning of the week all I wanted was just to hit greens, keep it in play and give myself chances but from the second round I saw guys were finding birdies out here so between yesterday and today I had to do something to start making birdies and today that back nine turned out good for me.’
The win helps Ritchie bank R237 750 and take his seasons earnings past the R1-million mark; he’s just the sixth player to break that milestone this campaign.
With this tournament important to many players for all sorts of reasons – some playing to save their cards, others to get into the Tour Championship in two weeks’ time and others playing to improve their general standing on the Order of Merit – Ritchie also had something to play for.
‘This win is huge for me,’ he said.
‘Not only for the win itself but my Order of Merit position. Going into Tour Champs, this win means so much to me and to have everyone here – my girlfriend and my friends, it was such a special event.’