McClatchie seizes opportunity to grab Tour Championship victory

It was mission accomplished for Kyle McClatchie on Friday as he carded a closing four-under-par 67 at Centurion Country Club to win the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour’s Tour Championship by one shot on 14-under-par.

His sixth victory of 2021, and his fourth since September, vaulted him to the top of the Road to the Sunshine Tour rankings. He, as well as the next five players on that list – Ian Snyman, Erhard Lambrechts, Ryan van Velzen, Vaughn van Deventer and Therion Nel – all are eligible for their Sunshine Tour cards for the next season.

“I was concentrating on one thing really,” said McClatchie after his victory which saw him climb two places on the final Order of Merit. “I needed to win the tournament and trust that topping the list would take care of itself. But I’m very pleased to have got it done and I know now that I don’t have to go through the pain of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School to regain my card.”

McClatchie made an early bogey in his final round when he dropped a shot on the third, but he picked up birdies on six and seven to stay in touch with overnight leader Bradley Diggeden. Diggeden, who had opened out a three-stroke lead with birdies on one and six, picked up another shot with birdie on nine.

McClatchie matched Diggeden’s birdie on 10, and then things went pear-shaped for Diggeden as he made a triple-bogey six on the par-three 11th. McClatchie rammed home the advantage that had been handed him with a birdie on 12, and when he picked up another shot on 14, he had a two-stroke edge with four to play.

Things stayed that way until the 18th, where Diggeden made a bidie to McClatchie’s par, and the job was done. “I had to keep focused during the stretch,” said McClatchie, “because it’s hard to not feel sympathy for someone who has had such a tough time like Bradley did.”

One shot behind Diggeden in third place was amateur Christiaan Burke, who also closed with a 67 to finish third on 12-under. First-round leader Keelan van Wyk had a final round of one-under-par 70 and was in fourth on 11-under, while Van Velzen, Ricky Hendler, Gerhard Pepler and Dylan Kok shared fifth on 10-under.

McClatchie will put his clubs away for the briefest of holidays ahead of the festive season, but has no plans for taking a major rest. “There’s quite a break before I can use my Sunshine Tour card, so I’ll see if I can get some tournament play before then – perhaps overseas,” he said.

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