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7th June 2024

Blaauw wins first title in eight years at SunBet Challenge

SUN CITY – Jacques Blaauw made par at the first playoff hole to win the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City at the Gary Player Country Club on Friday, with the 38-year-old breaking an eight-year win drought and doing it at one of his favourite courses.

It all led to an emotional celebration by Blaauw as he admitted to being “like a madman, going crazy on the phone” with his wife and father shortly after the trophy presentation.

“It’s been a while since my last win – 2016 – but I’ve been playing very well the last two months and I was thinking the win was coming,” Blaauw said, following up his four rounds in the sixties to finish third in the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am a fortnight ago with rounds of 71-71-69 for five-under-par at Gary Player Country Club.

“And I played really well today, besides my finish in regulation play when I bogeyed the 15th and 18th holes. But the wind made conditions really tough today and those last holes were playing difficult.

“I’ve been putting very well recently and my approach play today was much closer than I’m used to, which gave me more chances for birdies. A lot of hard work has gone into this, especially with my driving, which I’ve struggled with lately. But I worked on it yesterday and changed my settings.

“This game keeps you humble, there are more ups and downs. It’s funny, but what I consider to be my first professional win came at the Gary Player Country Club, one of the best courses in the country, when I won the Klipdrift Touring Pro-Am back in 2010/11. I’ve waited so long now for this win, so I was like a madman, going crazy on the phone when I spoke to my wife and dad,” Blaauw said.

Blaauw’s two late bogeys left him tied with Tristin Galant, Yurav Premlall and Jonathan Broomhead as that trio finished their rounds.

Premlall and Broomhead both made bogeys at the last hole, but Galant made an excellent par to force the playoff.

Blaauw and Galant then made their way to the par-five ninth, with both laying up. After their approach shots to the green, it was advantage Galant as he was nine feet from the hole after a fantastic shot, with Blaauw hitting a poor shot, by his own admission, to be 35 feet from the flag.

But Blaauw still attacked the birdie putt, hitting it five feet past but showing his composure and previous winning experience by making the par putt coming back. Galant missed his birdie putt and then unfortunately missed a three-footer for par.

Blaauw had been superb for most of his final round, making birdie on the first two holes and then adding an eagle on the par-five 10th and a birdie on the par-three 12th.

Two superb hits on the 505m 10th with a Driver and a four-iron set Blaauw up with a nine-foot eagle putt, and he was even more delighted with his four-iron into the 18th. Even though he ended up making bogey, the Els Club Copperleaf golfer said “it’s one of the best shots of my career and was crucial to my win”.

Galant shot a 70 on the final day and also suffered late blows with bogeys on the par-five 14th and par-four 17th.

Premlall made his fifth birdie of the round on the par-three 12th to hit eight-under-par, but he then double-bogeyed the par-four 13th and had two more drops coming in.
Broomhead was on six-under-par overall through 10 holes, but then made two bogeys coming in to sign for a level-par 72.

Overnight leader Werner Deyzel suffered a number of body blows on the brutal course, finishing with a seven-over 79 which included a triple-bogey on the 14th.