Take a look back at when South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel looked set to win his maiden South African Open title at the 2015 SA Open, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
After a somewhat quiet year in 2014, Schwartzel was one of the favourites leading up to the 2015 SA Open and was also one of the bigger names competing at the Glendower Golf Club that week.
Sullivan and Schwartzel both made encouraging starts to the 104th edition of South Africa’s most prestigious competition by going 6-under and 4-under respectively in their opening rounds.
But, Schwartzel began to climb the leaderboard during the second and third rounds with his third round of 66 sending him to the outright leader spot, heading into the final round on Sunday.
Sullivan began to struggle as the weekend unfolded and his aspirations of claiming victory looked all but over on the Saturday when he shot a two over par 74, which included four consecutive bogeys on the first four holes of the courses.
It pretty much set Schwartzel up for a resounding victory as he started the final round a massive seven strokes ahead of Sullivan. It was going to take something truly special from Sullivan to win on that Sunday and something truly shambolic from Schwartzel to lose it in the process.
In the end it was a combination of the two factors as Sullivan shot a 5-under par 67, while Schwartzel went two over for the round as both of them finished on 11-under after the four rounds.
Schwartzel had a very solid start to the final round, though, as he went even for the first nine holes. The trophy looked all but his when he birdied the 12th and 13th hole to take an unassailable lead with five holes to play.
But disaster struck and Schwartzel’s biggest nightmare became a reality as he slowly but surely started to choke on the final few holes. A bogey on the 14th, an ugly double-bogey on the 16th and another bogey on the 17th saw his big lead shrink emphatically.
Sullivan’s solid 67 in the final round meant a playoff was awaiting after Schwartzel saved par on the final hole, despite putting for birdie and the win.
By then it was rather clear who would head into the playoff hole as the favourite with the South African’s confidence dropping by the minute.
Sullivan, though, pulled his tee-shot way to the right, which gave a very difficult second shot with trees all around him.
But he managed to produce a phenomenal shot towards the left side of the green where the pin was placed, clearing a tight bunker in the process, which gave him a seven foot put for birdie and ultimately the win.
As Schwartzel saved par on the playoff hole, Sullivan’s putt faded perfectly from left-to-right, edging inside the right edge of the cup to claim a remarkable victory and his first ever on the European Tour.
Sullivan would go on to win the Joburg Open two months later as well and has since enjoyed playing golf in South Africa, especially at the SA Open.