Thriston Lawrence celebrated a drama-filled one-stroke Investec South African Open victory at Blair Atholl Golf and Country Estate on Sunday.
The 26-year-old turned his boyhood dreams into reality and claimed his third DP World Tour victory in what has been an incredible past 13 months for him.
“Unbelievable. It’s a dream come true for me. This is the one you want to win – your national Open. It was so special to have Gary Player watching as well. He’s won 13 of these, and now I’ve got one as well. It’s what you dream of. This means everything to me. This is by far my best victory ever,” said a relieved Lawrence, who finished on 16 under par.
He started the final round with a two-stroke lead and at one point was as much as five shots ahead. But then came a stretch of five dropped shots in five holes on a back nine of 41 for a closing 74 where he was pulled into an almost match-play battle with Clément Sordet who tied him for the lead before his bogey on 17.
“During the middle of the round, it felt like it was going to be an easy victory for me and then golf happens,” said Lawrence. “You get ups and downs during your round. You get ups and downs during life. And it happened to me today.
“It felt like everything was falling apart, but I just hung in there. It felt like match play for me. Even with those stumbles, I was still ahead and then after 16, I told myself I was all square. I just tried to stick to my own game and stay calm.”
“To be standing here with the trophy is an unbelievable accomplishment for me. I’m just so grateful. It wasn’t the prettiest finish but a win is a win. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and still not believe it. This is what you work for. It’s the toughest thing in the world to win, and it’s been an unbelievable start to the new season for me.”
Sordet took second place on 15 under with a closing 73.
Christiaan Maas won the Freddie Tait Cup for the leading amateur as he ended the week on five under with a final round of 77.