Alex Haindl is back in the winner’s circle. A closing 73 on the final day proved to be good enough for a one shot victory over Madalitso Muthiya and Jaco Ahlers to secure his fourth Sunshine Tour victory at the SunBet Challenge on Friday.
Overnight leader Haindl, playing on a medical exemption after undergoing spinal fusion to correct a previous back surgery, got off to a blistering start with birdies on three of his opening four holes to move to eleven under par for the tournament.
A dropped shot at the fifth hole was offset by an excellent birdie on the sixth. However, it wasn’t long before disaster struck on the difficult eighth hole. A bogey five was followed by an ugly double bogey seven on the island green at nine to fall back to eight under par, level for the day.
Playing with Haindl in the final group, Madalitso Muthiya and Jaco Ahlers mixed regular birdies with the odd dropped shot on their outward nines, leaving Haindl and Muthiya in a tie for the lead and Ahlers one shot further back heading to the par-five 10th hole.
Muthiya was the first to make a move with a birdie. Unfortunately for the Zambian golfer, a disastrous double bogey on the dog-leg eleventh hole and another mistake on twelve dropped him from one ahead to two shots behind Haindl with only six holes to play.
Ahlers continued to play steadily and when Haindl made bogey on thirteen, found himself in a sudden tie for the lead and an opportunity to make amends for a poor final round performance at the recent Dimension Data Pro-Am. A birdie for Muthiya on fourteen saw him into a three-way tie for the lead, raising the genuine prospect of a playoff with four holes remaining.
However, Haindl was not to be denied. A bogey by Muthiya on fifteen and a costly mistake on the short sixteenth by Ahlers allowed the Schoeman Park golfer to get his nose back in front, a position he would not relinquish over the difficult closing holes at the Gary Player Country Club.
The golf course played exceptionally tough over the three days with just five golfers managing to finish under par for the tournament, Ulrich van den Berg (four under par) and Keagan Thomas (two under par) rounding out the top five finishers.
That Winning feeling 💪💪
Alex Haindl is the 2021 @SunbetSA Challenge hosted by @SunCityResortSA Champion 🏆#SunBetChallenge#GreatnessBeginsHere#SunshineTour #SunCity #GaryPlayerCountryClub@MillionThrills pic.twitter.com/UEYNXZhwLc
— Sunshine Tour (@Sunshine_Tour) June 4, 2021