JC Ritchie birdied the 18th hole twice, once in regulation and once in a playoff battle with Jacques Blaauw, to win the Cape Town Open on Sunday.
The 27-year-old produced an excellent final-round display at the Royal Cape Golf Club to secure his second victory on the Challenge Tour.
Ritchie started Sunday’s action three shots adrift from the leaders but managed to climb his way into contention with a round of six-under-par 66.
With Blaauw looking set to bag the all-important win, Ritchie needed to throw his hat in the ring and he did just that with an excellent birdie putt on the final hole.
It saw him move to 14 under par, alongside Blaauw, who was teeing off on the 18th in the final group of the day.
Blaauw, however, had the big moment to seal the win with a birdie attempt of his own, but his effort missed to the right, which saw the two players return to the 18th.
Both of them played spectacular approach shots onto the green and while Blaauw again narrowly missed his attempt at birdie, Ritchie stood firm and sank his putt to claim victory.
Congratulations to JC Ritchie – winner of the 2021 Cape Town Open 🏆🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/HyGqlTl8e3
— Compleat Golfer (@CompleatGolfer) May 2, 2021
‘Something’s back. My game disappeared during Covid and I’ve been through hell with a lot of tears in the last year,’ said a clearly relieved Ritchie at the end of the day.
‘It’s been a tough time and I’ve gone to some terrible places. With all the tears, practice and at times wanting to give up, this win just cancels out all the bad things that have happened since Covid. To be able to get myself back in this position and strong enough to win again is very satisfying.’
It was Ritchie’s eighth career win on the Sunshine Tour and after a slow start to his week in Cape Town, he admits momentum began to swing in his favour over the course of the weekend.
‘Slowly throughout this week my game felt like it was starting to come back. Somehow I found some momentum on day one. Then in the final round the same thing happened. It didn’t feel like I was doing much. I was scrambling and didn’t think I’d be able to put up a charge. But on the third hole I holed probably the most difficult bunker shot of my career, and that birdie there started some momentum. I began hitting good shots and giving myself a lot of chances for birdie,’ he added.
Photo: Sunshine Tour