Joburg Open winner Joachim B Hansen has given a lot of praise and credit to young Wilco Nienaber after the tight battle between the two players at Randpark Golf Club on Sunday.
Hansen scraped past Nienaber for his maiden European Tour title after the South African made deciding bogeys on the final two holes.
Nienaber led the event for the majority of the weekend but fell short at the very end for his highest-placed finish ever on the European Tour.
‘Wilco played really solidly and holed some good putts for pars and birdies that kept him going and he didn’t let me in. So I had to do it myself with a strong finish,’ Hansen said as he reflected on his victory on Sunday.
‘It was a fun battle out there with Wilco. I kept the head calm out there and we stuck to the plan in terms of where we wanted to hit our drives and approaches. I kept pushing. It started slowly but suddenly the birdies came on the back nine.’
Hansen started the final round in second place and a stroke behind Nienaber, but made his move on the back nine when the 20-year-old held a three-shot lead at the turn.
The Dane started to roll in putts and began to build significant pressure on Nienaber, with the pair even on 19 under par heading to the penultimate hole.
‘The putt on 10 set something going, then I had a good save on 11 and a good up and down on 12. But I think the par save I made on 13 was also key and kept me going in that stretch.’
Hansen cut an emotional figure after his win and celebrated with his family via a video call next to the 18th green.
‘The emotions came out there. I’m just pleased to get it done after a few near misses. I’m pleased to prove to myself I can win out here,’ he added.
Nienaber, though, was fairly satisfied with his whole performance at the Joburg Open and his impressive showing certainly indicated to bigger things to come.
‘Winning is the nicest, but all credit to Joachim. I’m happy with the way I played. I just made two mistakes at the end, but next week is another week. This is my first runner-up on the European Tour, so I’m happy with that,’ Nienaber said.