A run of three consecutive birdies on the homeward nine on Saturday saw Alex Haindl pull off his second Sunshine Tour victory of the season as he took the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen Golf Club by one stroke.
He held on through tough conditions on the opening nine – it was cold with gusting winds on a course that was bone-dry and running very long on the fairways – on which he made a birdie, two bogeys and a double to turn in three-over. He turned on the pressure on the back nine with four birdies and just one bogey to beat off Peter Karmis, Hennie Otto, Ockie Strydom and Jayden Schaper for the victory.
“That run of birdies couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Haindl, who won the SunBet Challenge at Sun City back at the beginning of June. “It was very tricky out there today, and we finally had a few holes where we had a bit of a chance downwind. I tried to get a few birdies, and luckily, they came.”
He had birdied the par-five 11th to get things going on the back nine, but he promptly made bogey on 12. It was at that point that the birdie-run came. By a combination of some precise approach shots and good mid-range putting, he raced to the top of the leaderboard where he held on for dear life.
It was not as simple as that, though, as he pushed his tee shot right on the deceptively tough finishing 18th into tree trouble. “I felt I should go big of go home,” laughed Haindl about the aggressive approach he played from a tough spot. “I had a bit of a gap between the trees but it was 200 over the water. I had to hit a big cut against the wind with a four-iron. I went for it, and luckily, it came off.”
It was a gamble, but given how fortunes fluctuated amongst those who eventually finished second, it was one worth taking. Karmis was unable to make birdie on the final three holes after making just one on the back nine, Otto eagled 15 and birdied 16, and came close to picking up a final shot on 18, Strydom had too much work to do to overcome a poor opening nine of 42, and Schaper, chasing a maiden Sunshine Tour win, got it to three-under with consecutive birdies on 14, 15 and 16, but bogeyed 18 to slip out of his share of the lead.
For Haindl, it was a question of confidence brought about by his June victory and belief in his abilities. “I felt pretty good out there,” he said. “You don’t have any control of what anyone else is doing, so I just tried to get my job done.”