BELA-BELA (Limpopo) – As JJ Senekal drove to the Zebula golf course for Sunday’s final round of the SDC Open, his new favourite playlist was on the car radio. The volume was turned up to 21. That’s when he decided to turn it up to 25, to match his desired target of 25 under par to win this tournament.
A few hours later, Senekal rolled in a birdie putt on the 18th to win this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour tournament with a final round of 65 and by four strokes. On 25 under par.
“It was very emotional. I put a lot of hard work into this starting from the beginning of last year. It all comes down to hard work. This means the world to me. I was knocking for quite a while now and this week was a good example of staying patient, playing good golf and knowing what to do and when to do it,” Senekal said after his wire-to-wire victory.
Casey Jarvis took second place on 21 under par with a closing 67, and the young South African threw everything at Senekal during a thrilling back nine in which he chipped in for eagle on the 15th and then holed a huge birdie putt on 16 to close to within one shot of Senekal with two holes to play.
But the par-three 17th proved the differentiator as Senekal birdied the hole and Jarvis made bogey after missing the green with his tee shot. That gave Senekal a three-shot lead playing the 18th.
“Keeping Casey off my back was hard. Well done to him. He played an unbelievable round of golf. He really chased me down on the back nine. He started firing over the last few holes but I did what I needed to and hit some good golf shots,” said Senekal.
But even with a three-shot lead, Senekal delivered an incredible approach that left him with a two-foot putt for birdie on the 18th.
“It was a big relief. I thought I’d hit it short but once you see the ball next to the hole and you know you’ve got a three-shot lead and are tapping in for birdie, it’s all the pressure off your shoulders. It feels amazing. It’s been five years since my last win. To finally get it done is a great feeling.”
Senekal also won himself a 20-year Zebula Holiday Villa Share worth R320 000. – Michael Vlismas