KHOLWANE, Eswatini – Peter Karmis has not won on the Sunshine Tour since August 2018, but the 42-year-old showed he still has the bottle for it on Saturday as clinched a thrilling one-stroke victory in the FNB Eswatini Challenge at the Nkonyeni Lodge and Golf Estate.
Karmis fired a two-under-par 70 in Saturday’s final round to finish on 10-under-par overall, edging out Stuart Krog (69) on nine-under for his seventh Sunshine Tour title.
Matthew Spacey, who enjoyed a four-stroke lead going into the last day, stumbled to a 76 on Saturday and ended up sharing third place on eight-under-par with Louis Albertse (67), last week’s winner CJ du Plessis (68) and Ruan Korb (69).
Although Karmis started brilliantly with a birdie on the par-four first hole, and gained two more shots on the seventh and eighth holes to reach the turn on three-under, he endured a rollercoaster back nine that saw him sandwich a birdie on the par-five 13th hole with bogeys on the 11th and 15th holes.
Karmis showed his mettle, however, by finishing with three straight pars, while Krog suffered a costly double-bogey on the par-four 16th hole.
“You need a bit of luck and things went my way, especially at the death,” Karmis said. “I was trying not to get too excited and on the last couple of holes I was very nervous.
“Some guys shy away from nerves, they try and fix it, but that can become very difficult. I prefer to embrace it and enjoy the nerves.
“I know it’s been five years since I won, but we were in lockdown for a long time and I had a struggle with injury. So it feels like I had three years off,” Karmis said.
Whatever the final round held in store for Karmis, he knew the Nkonyeni Golf Estate course was one he enjoyed. Saturday’s victory is his fourth in Eswatini, having won the Lombard Insurance Classic twice (2007 & 2009) and the Investec Royal Swazi Open in 2017.
“I don’t know what it is about Eswatini, but I always just seem to have a very good attitude here. This is a very good course that suits my game. I love the grainy greens, although I did have a little issue with my putter today.
“But from tee-to-green I was good. I was a bit nervous about my Driver, but I hit it a lot today. I’ve played well recently and feel in good form,” Karmis said.