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25th February 2024

Åkesson marks golf comeback with NMB Championship win

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – Swede Björn Åkesson made a fairytale comeback to the game when he won the NMB Championship at Humewood Golf Club on Sunday.

Åkesson was declared the winner after three rounds which he led by a single stroke on 18 under par. The fourth and final round had to be cancelled due to high winds, with the tournament decided over 54 holes.

It was a dream result for the Swede who retired from golf in 2017 after losing his DP World Tour card, and then returned to the Challenge Tour this year.

“It feels amazing. This is my first win on the Challenge Tour and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. It means a lot to me,” he said.

“To get my first win on the Challenge Tour will certainly give me more confidence on the golf course.”

Åkesson started the tournament with a brilliant 63, but the key to his victory was undoubtedly the following two rounds of 67 and 68 which he played in incredibly difficult conditions at Humewood. They proved vital as Saturday’s play was delayed until just after 2pm because of high winds, and then the final round had to be called off on Sunday.

“It was very windy on Friday afternoon. It was tough conditions and I played really well. But I think the hole I am most proud of is the 54th hole. I pulled a driver left, found it in the bush, dropped, laid up to 79 metres and then hit that to two metres and made the putt. That meant the most to me because I wasn’t feeling very good at the time.

“But I just kept playing shot by shot. It was tough. But I’ve always been quite good in these tricky conditions. I don’t enjoy it but I’m good at it.”

England’s Lee Slattery took second place on 17 under par with rounds of 65, 67 and 67. Australia’s Hayden Hopewell was third on 16 under par with rounds of 63, 69 and 68.

The leading South African was Jaco Prinsloo on 13 under par, which secured him a share of sixth place.

This was the final tournament on the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour swing, with Åkesson praising the South African run of tournaments.

“The Challenge Tour and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned events are very good because they give us the opportunity to play when it’s cold in Europe.”