Martin Rohwer had the good graces to call it “unexpected” and thanked the weather for helping him, but his wonderful victory in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun Sibaya at Umhlali Country Club on Friday was down to the fabulous golf he played on the final day.
Starting the last round eight shots off the lead, Rohwer fired a superb six-under-par 65 on Friday, lifting him into a playoff with Christiaan Burke. Rohwer then parred the par-three 18th hole three times, with Burke making bogey on the third attempt, to seal a most unlikely triumph.
“I just made the cut on the number yesterday and I missed the cut last week, so to win is obviously unexpected,” a delighted Rohwer said. “The win never crossed my mind and I was just thinking about getting a low round and moving as high up the leaderboard as possible.
“But the way the weather changed, Mother Nature did me a favour. We heard that the wind was going to pick up in the afternoon and as soon as I stepped off the 18th, the wind turned south-westerly and started blowing quite hard. So it was a struggle for the later golfers.
“I made a really nice putt for eagle on the par-four 14th and then I chipped in for birdie on the 15th and that really threw me into contention. I then just tried to hold on and post something. I thought I might then potentially have a chance.
“I had not hit a shot for a couple of hours and then I went to the range before the playoff. The 18th is a relatively short [182m] par-three with quite a strong wind coming off the left and I hit seven-iron all three times. I made a good putt for par on the first playoff hole, par again and then two putts for par the third time as Christiaan made bogey.”
— Sunshine Tour (@Sunshine_Tour) October 27, 2023
The Kloof Country Club golfer said his putter was his other main benefactor as he claimed his third individual title on the Sunshine Tour.
“The best part of my game was on the greens. I made some really nice putts. I drove the ball pretty well too. It’s been a pretty solid season. I’ve finished third twice, had another top-10, and I’ve only missed two cuts. But I’m stoked to win and hopefully I can take this form into the summer swing and the rest of the year.”
The 30-year-old had three birdies and a bogey on the front nine, and then dropped another shot on the par-four 12th. But that was followed a tremendous birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie run as Rohwer roared into contention.
With overnight leader Jonathan Broomhead struggling to a five-over-par 76, Burke took control with three consecutive birdies from the ninth hole giving him a two-shot lead over Luke Brown and Luke Jerling.
But Burke then dropped shots on the 14th, 16th and 18th holes to sign for a 72 and give Rohwer a chance.
Brown (67) and Jerling (71) also had late bogeys as they finished in a tie for third on four under par, just one stroke behind.
Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour