SERENGETI ESTATES, Kempton Park – Jaco Ahlers left the best for last, in all respects. In the final tournament of the Sunshine Tour season, Ahlers chipped in from the bunker for birdie on the last to claim a four-shot victory in the Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates on Sunday.
Ahlers closed with a 71 and a total of 17 under par to claim his 11th victory on the Sunshine Tour.
“I didn’t expect that finish. I was actually just trying to keep it together there at the end. But what a way to finish. I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Ahlers after he was drenched in six bottles of champagne by a group of Serengeti fans with whom he has a special relationship.
“This one was always special. I have a big tie with Serengeti and the people here. My sponsor lives here and I have a lot of support here. This is like a second home for me. It’s a special win this one.”
Casey Jarvis finished second on 13 under par after closing with a 70. Luca Filippi, Ryan van Velzen and Pieter Moolman shared third on eight under par.
Ahlers went into the final round five strokes clear of Jarvis. After the par-three fifth hole, Ahlers was seven shots ahead of Jarvis as he threatened to surpass the record six-stroke victory by Tristen Strydom last year. But Jarvis then made three consecutive birdies from the sixth to cut Ahlers’s lead down to three.
But Ahlers remained composed, and when Jarvis bogeyed the 11th and 14th holes, Ahlers birdied the 14th to give himself a six-shot lead with four to play. He bogeyed 17 and then made the incredible birdie on 18.
With this being the season-ending tournament, Ockie Strydom claimed the overall Luno Order of Merit title thereby securing himself a place in two of the four Majors – the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and, via the Federation Ranking on the Official World Golf Ranking, the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill – as well as in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He also wins R500 000 in Bitcoin.
Casey Jarvis walked off with the Rookie of the Season award for a remarkable first season on the Sunshine Tour in which he challenged for a maiden victory on several occasions, shot only the second 59 in Sunshine Tour history, and finished seventh on the final Luno Order of Merit. – Michael Vlismas