Groenewald secures thrilling sudden-death victory
VAUGHN Groenewald ended his three-year losing streak on Saturday when he won the Sun Wild Coast Challenge.
After entering the final round by a single shot on a total of 12-under, trailing Adilson Da Silva – who, along with Darren Fichardt and Hennie Otto, made up the four-man play-off after finishing 16-under-par 194 in regulation — Groenewald managed to overtake his competitors to be crowned victorious for the first time since 2015.
“The whole day I was just going with the motion, I was one-under and probably three or four shots behind,” noted Groenewald after his playoff win.
In talking about his thought process during the final round, he said: “I wasn’t even thinking of the win. I was too far behind. But then I turned and I thought well, let’s play for second or third.”
A final round 66 catapulted him to a share of the top spot with the players already mentioned to force the tournament into a sudden death.
After having fallen on the wayside four other times before, Groenewald registered his first playoff win at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club this week.
Unlike in the past, when he looked to be contending from early on in the tournament, this time he went under the radar until the last couple of holes in regulation play.
“I’ve been in a playoff, I think, four times before, but, this is the first I have won. I’m always happy with a win.”
Despite the challenges encountered prior to the start of this event; which saw some holes vandalised before the start of the tournament and which led to a decision to play the tournament on just the front nine of the golf course; coupled with delays of tee times due to inclement weather at times; Groenewald enjoyed his time in Port Edward.
“I love it here. I love the coast, I love this layout and I think I might just take up membership here.”
While he emerged as the winner at the end of it all, it was Fichardt who made the most of the forgiving weather conditions, signing for a bogey-free eight-under-par 62 to secure himself a spot in the playoff.
Da Silva, who was in the driving seat for the previous two rounds thanks to an opening 63 that was followed by a 64, was just as solid.
The youngest in that playoff, Du Plessis, put up the fight of his life only to be let down by his missed birdie-putt in sudden death.
Despite the challenges faced this week, a spectacular golf tournament was served and a worthy contender triumphed.