MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – Ryan van Velzen claimed his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour in a dramatic final round of the Limpopo Championship at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate on Sunday.
At the end of a difficult week of weather delays which forced the tournament to be reduced to 54 holes, the 21-year-old Van Velzen signed for a final round of 68 to win by a single stroke on 12 under par. Jaco Prinsloo, Luca Filippi and Daniel van Tonder shared second place on 11 under par. Former South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) member Franklin Manchest achieved an impressive top 10 finish on seven under par.
A thrilling Sunday began with the suspended second round being completed on Sunday morning. Prinsloo posted a 67 – including four consecutive birdies on the back nine – to claim a two-stroke lead on 11 under par, with Neil Schietekat his nearest challenger on nine under par. Van Velzen was in a share of third place on eight under par.
In the third and final round, Prinsloo appeared to be well in control and headed for victory as he birdied the 16th for a one-stroke lead over Van Velzen with only the par-five 18th to come. Van Velzen had already made it into the clubhouse on 12 under.
But Prinsloo double bogeyed the 18th after hitting his approach deep into the left rough, with Van Velzen watching as he celebrated his first victory on the Sunshine Tour.
“It’s incredible. It’s awesome,” said an emotional Van Velzen. “This changes everything for me. I’m now into every single Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament next season.”
Van Velzen’s putter was the key for him this week. “I’ve been working really hard and I holed some good putts. I also stayed really calm during all the weather disruptions. My caddie Luke was such a big help for me. He kept me in a good space and we just had a good time out there. I’d set myself a target for 15 under overall. I didn’t get there, but I played unbelievable golf this whole week and had so much fun out there.” – Michael Vlismas