DAINFERN, Johannesburg – When it comes to a Players Championship, there could not have been a more popular winner of the Stella Artois Players Championship amongst all his peers than Kyle Barker.
The man with the biggest smile on the Sunshine Tour had even more reason to do so as Barker claimed his maiden victory on the circuit at Dainfern Country Club on Sunday.
A week of incredible scoring saw Barker sign off with a 61 to win on 30 under par. He finished six shots clear of second-placed Peter Karmis, who closed with a 64, and Casey Jarvis, who signed for a final round of 68.
Karmis and Jarvis sharing second place alongside each other was another special moment as they also share the lowest round in Sunshine Tour history of 59. Karmis shot his 59 in 2009 and Jarvis equaled that this week in the third round of this tournament.
But the biggest smile and applause belonged to the ever-popular Barker.
“Thank you so much guys. Honestly, this feels like a dream right now. To all the supporters out there and everyone that came, it was just amazing. Thank you so much,” said Barker.
Barker was three shots off the overnight lead and then stormed through the field with the kind of free-flowing golf he’s known for, making six birdies on the front nine and then five on the second nine.
“My mindset was key out there today. I played carefree golf. I didn’t mind if I made a mistake, and if I did I bounced back immediately. My mindset was just so strong and my short game was also very good out there. The greens were superb. I’m just so proud of myself for doing this.”
In a week of memorable moments, Barker said his six iron into the par-five 18th green would stand out as his favourite.
“I’ve never felt my hands shake so much in my life but I’m just glad it came out of the middle of the clubface and finished in the middle of the green, and the two-putt to win was awesome. I’m just so thankful to my family and my fiancé, Savannah, for their support.”
And one of the most popular players on the Sunshine Tour paid tribute to his fellow players as well.
“I also want to thank my best pals – my travel buddies. There have been a lot of ups and downs this year, but I really want to thank them. It’s been amazing and I look forward to our future memories to come.” – Michael Vlismas