WEEK 48 Phil Mickelson 25 consecutive years inside the World Top 50

Week 44

VAN TONDER CLAIMS FOURTH TITLE THIS YEAR

Sunshine Tour – Investec Royal Swazi Open

Daniel van Tonder claimed his fourth victory in his last six Sunshine Tour starts when he won the Investec Royal Swazi Open at the Gary Player Country Club moving to Word No.147 from 205.

And now the most dominant player on the Sunshine Tour this year has set his sights on the upcoming European Tour co-sanctioned events and the three-week run of the Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open beginning at the end of November.

“All of my titles in my career have come on golf courses that have good greens. I do well on courses with good greens. Randpark Golf Club (Joburg Open), Leopard Creek Golf Club (Alfred Dunhill Championship) and the Gary Player Country Club (SA Open) all have very good greens so, yes, I’m looking forward to those tournaments,” he said.

Van Tonder completed a wire-to-wire victory in the Investec Royal Swazi Open as he closed with a final round of 10 points under the modified stableford scoring system used for this event, giving him a winning total of 48 points.

Neil Schietekat took second place on 30 points after a final round of six points, while MJ Viljoen was third on 29 points after a closing tally of nine points.

The victory was not only another affirmation of Van Tonder’s incredible form since the Tour’s return after the hard lockdown, but also his second in this tournament following his win in 2014. He also won with 48 points on that occasion.

European Tour – Aphrodite Hills Cyprus open

Callum Shinkwin defeated Kalle Samooja in a play-off to win his first European Tour title after a dramatic final day at the 2020 Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open jumoping back into the World’s Top 200 at World No.168.

The Englishman was two shots behind the Finn as he stood on the 17th tee in regulation and while a birdie there edged him closer, his chances of victory looked slim when he found rough off the tee at the par five last.

A mighty heave with his second shot over the water saw him find the putting surface and he holed an incredible 54 foot putt for eagle to take a one shot lead at 20 under after a closing 63.

Playing in the final group of the day, Samooja left himself an eagle chance from almost exactly the same spot and a two putt birdie handed him a closing 64 and took us to extra holes.

Shinkwin found the greenside bunker with his second shot at the first trip back up the last but got up and down for a birdie, with Samooja's three putt from the fringe making Shinkwin a winner in his 112th European Tour event.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, South African Garrick Higgo and Scot Robert MacIntyre finished two shots out of the play-off, one clear of Australian Jason Scrivener, Finn Sami Välimäki and England's Dale Whitnell.

PGA Tour – Bermuda Championship

Brian Gay rallied from a three-shot deficit on the back nine, hit gap wedge to 3 feet for birdie on the 18th hole for a 7-under 64 and then beat Wyndham Clark on the first extra hole with a 12-foot birdie putt in the Bermuda Championship. Gay earned 24 Ranking points moving to World No.181 from 328.

Since golf returned from the coronavirus-caused shutdown in June, the 48-year-old Gay was missing enthusiasm and putts, not a good combination for one of the shorter hitters in golf. He missed the cut in nine of his last 11 tournaments.

“Crazy game,” Gay said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

He piled up nine birdies over his last 14 holes, including one extra hole in a sudden-death playoff, for his fifth career PGA TOUR title and his first in nearly eight years. Just over a year away from being able to join the PGA TOUR Champions, Gay is now exempt through August 2023 because of his playoff victory over Clark.

He'll be at Kapalua to start the new year. He'll be back at Augusta National in April.

“I've always known I have the game to compete,” Gay said. “It easy to doubt yourself. The players are so good and so young. A lot of them are my daughter's age.”

Gay was happy to see at least a limited number of fans at the Bermuda Championship as the PGA TOUR slowly gets back to having some spectators. What he could have used was a video board to show him where he stood.

Only after he gunned a birdie putt some 5 feet by the hole for a three-putt bogey on the par-5 17th did he realize that cost him a share of the lead. On the closing hole at Port Royal, from a side hill lie with the ball slightly above his feet and the wind at his back, he hammered a gap wedge that was so good Gay could be heard saying, “Go in the hole.”

It settled 3 feet away for birdie to finish at 15-under 269.

Alps Tour Golf – Italy Alps Open: underline;">

The season ending Italy Alps open was won by Jacopo Vecchi Fossa from Italy with a final round of 68 (-4) and a grand total of -13 (203).

“It’s great to win the last tournament of the season. I’ve played six events this year and I’ve played well on some great courses. Plus, this win secures me my full card for the Alps Tour next season”.

Having undergone heart surgery in 2017, it is great to see him fully recovered and back on form. His pleasure at winning his first Alps Tour title was dimmed though by the fact that his playing partner, Jeong Weon Ko incurred a one stroke penalty on the 18th green.

On the 18th tee, Ko was one stroke ahead at -13. His ball came to rest just off the green and he marked it to check the line, but then moved the ball to adjust the line which is an infringement of rule 9.4b of the Rules of Golf. His error obviously unsettled him as he three-putted to finish with a double bogey whilst the Italian birdied to secure the win.

“It takes a little joy away from my win as I felt really sorry for Jeong”.

Nevertheless, Ko can take some comfort from his second place as it was enough to secure him third place on the Order of Merit and thus one of the three Challenge Tour places for next year.

The remaining two Challenge Tour places go to Jordi Garcia Del Moral from Spain, who was the winner of the 2020 OofM and his fellow countryman, Lucas Vacarisas who was second. Jordi Garcia Del Moral had arrived at the final secure in the knowledge that his performance this year with six top ten results, including a win at the Cervino Open meant that he would already have one of the three cards.

Big Easy Tour – Big Easy Road to #2 – State Mines

Kyle McClatchie comfortably won this season’s second event on the Big Easy Tour Road To #2 at State Mines Country Club, by three shots. McClatchie earned 3 Ranking points jumping 711 spots to World No.995.

McClatchie took a slim one-shot lead into the final round following back-to-back rounds of seven-under 65 and would have been confident of his ability to put together a low one when it mattered the most, and despite the piling pressure from the rest of the field. He told media on Tuesday that he aims to keep seeking out birdie-opportunities on Wednesday and a conservative approach was the last thing in his mind.

He did exactly that on Wednesday in the final round; getting off the mark quickly with back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes. Two more birdies followed on the sixth and seventh before he turned in 32 and without blemish.

A brilliant birdie at the turn, on the par-five 10th, was immediately canceled out by his first bogey of the day and one par later, another drop followed. In what’s been one of his strongest points this week, after birdieing all the par-fives, except for the 10th where he made par on Monday, McClatchie made yet another birdie on 15 before a bogey threatened to snatch victory from his grasp.

“I got a little bit nervous at the back nine,” admitted McClatchie who is a GolfRSA graduate. “But I am happy to win. This is my second one but the first one I won as an amateur. It’s always hard to win especially if you have not won in a long time. So, I was nervous but I am happy I managed to come out with a win.

That fear was short-lived because McClatchie held on and birdied the last hole to sign for a four-under-par 68 which took his total for the week to 18-under and hand him a three-shot win over Vaughn Van Deventer.