Two missed putts on Sunday cost Hennie du Plessis a chance to finish high enough in the Nedbank Golf Challenge to give him entry into the DP World Tour Championship which rounds out the season.
One missed from inside six feet on 12 and one from 12 feet on 13 saw Du Plessis finish with a five-under-par 67 to climb into a share of sixth at Gary Player Country Club. That gave him a jump of 16 places on the Race to Dubai rankings to 58th. One or both of those putts which led to his only bogeys in the final round would have seen him finish fourth or fifth, and he would have had to rush to a travel agent to make his way to the Earth Course in Dubai as one of the top 50 on the tour.
While it is easy to look back on those two opportunities with regret, in truth, his week at Sun City was a fine conclusion to a good season on the DP World Tour, and it will see him start the new season – in South Africa with three tasty tournaments in the Joburg Open, the Investec South African Open championship and the Alfred Dunhill Championship – on a roll heading into 2024.
He was comfortably the best South African in the 66-man field of ‘Africa’s Major’, with Thriston Lawrence the next-best local player at four-under-par in a share of 24th with his closing 69.
Also, there was going to be no catching Max Homa, who carded a six-under-par 66 with an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys to cruise to a four-stroke win over Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark.
The American began the final round with a one-shot lead and was briefly caught by Thorbjørn Olesen despite making birdies on four of his first six holes.
However, no sooner had he been joined at the top of the leaderboard than World Number Eight Homa fired a sensational approach over the water to 18 feet at the ninth and converted the eagle opportunity.
Olesen cranked up the pressure once more with a tap-in birdie on the 10th but, although Homa gave the chasing pack hope with a dropped shot on the 11th, the Dane carded consecutive bogeys at the 12th and 13th before a double-bogey at the 16th ended his challenge.
Homa birdied the 15th from seven feet and rattled in a 38-foot effort at the next to put the result beyond doubt.
“It’s been a dream 10 or 11 days,” Homa said. “It was a crazy day – I got off to such a great start and Thorbjørn was playing unbelievable. He kept pushing us along and Nicolai was playing phenomenal golf so it was fun. It’s kind of what you dream of, you want to be in the fight and it was fun to close it out at the end.”