Prinsloo takes Players Championship in play-off

It took three play-off holes for Jaco Prinsloo to emerge victorious on Sunday in the Sunshine Tour’s Players Championship hosted by Dainfern Golf Estate.

And when Daniel van Tonder missed a short birdie putt on the par-five 18th as the duo played it for the fourth time in the final round, Prinsloo took his time over the two-footer for birdie to make sure he won his second Sunshine Tour title to add to his 2017 win in the Vodacom Origins of Golf final in 2017 in Knysna.

“A lot of people have won one and have never won again,” said Prinsloo, “so to get my second win means a lot to me and I’m really happy. It kind of validates everything I have been doing.”

It took a while for Prinsloo to get to the top of the leaderboard as he turned in two-under 34 while Jake Roos was shooting the lights out with six birdies on the front nine. Van Tonder was also going low as he reached the halfway mark in four-under. “I was behind for a long time, until late on the back nine,” said Prinsloo, “and although I was the least experienced of the guys in contention, I managed to keep pretty calm.”

On a day when the low round of the day, a 10-under 62 from Thriston Lawrence, was only good enough for a share of third, the tendency is to push for birdies, and that was precisely the recipe for disaster, according to Prinsloo. “After six holes, I knew I just had to be patient, rather than try and make more than I really should,” he said.

After the turn, that approach began to pay dividends and he made four birdies in the first six holes from the 10th to the 15th. But the by-product of that push for home was a dropped shot on the 16th, and he was left having to pick up strokes on the final to holes to stay in contention.

He duly birdied the 17th, and, with the par-five 18th stretching ahead of him as he played in the final group, he had a chance to take the win when he had a 15-footer for eagle and the title. He came agonisingly close, but the birdie put him into the play-off with Roos and Van Tonder.

Roos was the first to fall out as his four on the 18th was not enough to trump Van Tonder’s and Prinsloo’s eagles. The latter two tried to find a winner for the second time in the sudden-death play-off, and each made birdie on 18 again.

And then came the little pull from Van Tonder for his birdie on the third play-off hole, and Prinsloo was able to very deliberately make his two-footer for birdie and the win.

“It’s been a year-and-a-half of a lot of hard work,” said Prinsloo, “and a week-and-a-half ago, my coach and I simplified things after we read about Jbe’ Kruger taking his swing back to its roots. There’s a lot to be said for using what has worked in the past.”

The win takes Prinsloo to the top of the Sunshine Tour money list, but, more importantly, it has set him up for the rest of the season as the tour pieces together a season from the ashes of the COVID-19 setback.

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