DULLSTROOM, Mpumalanga – After 12 years on tour and more than his fair share of close calls, heartache and injuries, Anthony Michael finally claimed his first victory on the Sunshine Tour in the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate on Saturday.
Michael signed for a final round of 69 to win on 10 under par, one shot clear of Herman Loubser and Wynand Dingle. Dingle had a four-foot putt on the last to force a playoff with Michael but missed.
“I’m over the moon. After so many years and so many runner-up finishes, I felt like I wasn’t carrying just a monkey on my back anymore. It felt like a gorilla,” said a relieved Michael.
Even as he stood on the 18th green with Dingle about to putt, Michael was steeling himself for another missed opportunity. “I’ve been in that position so many times where I’ve missed a putt and given away the tournament. So I was preparing myself for the playoff. When Wynand missed there was just massive relief.”
The victory comes after a tough period in which Michael has battled his way through a painful elbow injury and the recovery process.
“I was playing through the pain up to the point where I could barely hold a golf club anymore. I went for treatment and it put me out for four months. It was a tough time because this is how I earn a living, so it put a lot of pressure on me. I’m also getting married in two months’ time, so there were those financial considerations as well. But my sponsor Betway has been unbelievable in their support of me.
“I’m just so relieved. I’ve seen all my friends on the Sunshine Tour win, and after 12 years of being on tour you wonder if it will ever happen.” – Michael Vlismas