Jaco Prinsloo won his third Sunshine Tour title in three weeks on Sunday when he carded a closing four-under-par 68 to take the Serengeti Pro-Am Invitational by a margin of two shots.
He had a shaky start with two bogeys in his opening five holes – admittedly matched with two birdies in the same stretch – but he settled down to turn in one-under 35 and come home with three more birdies on the back nine to finish clear of overnight leader Jaco Ahlers, and three strokes ahead of MJ Viljoen and Neil Schietekat who shared third on 11-under. That was after five rounds in an unusual format which included a rest day after the cut, and a third round on the par-three course at Serengeti.
“It wasn’t an ideal start,” said Prinsloo, “but at least I had made a birdie on one before the bogey on two. The there was a par, and after that I repeated the pattern of the first two holes. So it was a little concerning, but nothing major. And after that, I managed to keep the bogeys off the card, make a couple of birdies and, after I got myself in front, I managed to pull away.
“That’s probably thanks to my fast start with that 64 in the first round. After that, it was actually a bit of a grind, but I knew I could score well, and, thankfully, that all came together today.”
For Prinsloo, the addition of this victory to his triumph in the Players Championship hosted by Dainfern validates a lot of the hard work he has put in to get to the point where he is regularly regarded as a contender in any Sunshine Tour event in which he plays.
“I can’t actually put my finger on any one thing I have been doing that has put me in contention so much,” he said. “Maybe I am just swinging just like Jaco, rather than like Dustin, or Bryson, or anyone else, And when the pressure’s on, that’s a good thing.
“I’ve been riding that momentum, and having got that win at Dainfern, I have certainly felt that I’d be able to score well just about any time if I just keep myself in touch. That certainly proved to be true this week, and it’s something I can take with me going forward,” he added.
An off-day off the tees bedevilled Ahlers’ attempt to hold on for victory, and the three bogeys on his card could probably all be traced to not being in a good position in the fairway to attack the pin or even, in some cases, get to the green. When he was able to make only par on 17, on which the tee had been brought up to entice the attempt to drive the green, his chances of winning finally slipped away after he had made birdie there in all the previous rounds.
Schietekat had a better finish than he experienced last week at Ebotse, where a bogey and a double-bogey in the final three holes cost him the tournament. This week, he carded a five-under-par 67 in the final round, with two birdies in the final three holes, to earn his second-successive share of third.
His wasn’t the low round of the day, however, as Martin Rohwer signed for a seven-under 65 to give him a share of 13th.
For Prinsloo, who climbs to the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit with his win, the short break the tour has before the three tournaments co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour is a relief. “I’m looking forward to the rest,” he said. “But I’m also looking forward to playing again.”