GOLFER Mark Williams became the first Zimbabwean winner on the Sunshine Tour in four years after cruising to a two-stroke victory in the R750 000 Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at St Francis Links in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 32-year-old Bulawayo-born professional golfer carded a two-under final round of 70 for an 11-under-par total of 205 to claim his maiden Sunshine Tour title after almost 14 years on the circuit.
With the win, Williams not only pocketed ZAR118 875, but also ended Zimbabwe’s four-year winless streak on southern Africa’s premier professional golf tour since Ryan Cairns’ playoff win at the Vodacom Origins of Golf tourney at Simola Golf and Country Estate in 2012.
“It’s great to come back here and to win my first title. It’s been a long time coming,” he said. Williams has been the leading Zimbabwean golfer on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit Standings over the last two seasons. “It’s nice to finally get it under the belt. The belief has been there for the last 18 months. I’ll take the win, even with the shaky finish.”
“Getting into the winner’s category on the Sunshine Tour makes a big difference in terms of tournaments I can get into,” he said adding. “And I hope I can be in there more often now,” he said.
Yesterday’s victory ensured Williams finally ended his sad memories from the same tournament at St Francis Links last year when he called a penalty shot on himself and lost by one.
That near-miss was one of many over the last two years for the Zimbabwean, who in 2013 suffered another heartbreaking near-miss at R2 million Lion of Africa Cape Town Open after coming short after a playoff
having led with one hole to play in regulation play.
And he might have thought he had blown another golden opportunity yesterday when he closed with a double-bogey six after hitting his tee shot into the water on 18.
It, however, didn’t prove costly in the end as he had built-up a healthy four-stroke cushion over runner-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout, heading up the final fairway.
South African seasoned professional, Keith Horne, Madalitso Muthiya of Zambia and Jacques Blaauw shared third place at six-under-par 210, with Nigerian Andrew Odoh on five-under in sixth place.