Hennie Otto wins Vodacom Championship by nine strokes

2010-03-01 00:00

PRETORIA — In boxing terms, the referee should have stopped the Vodacom Championship, but Hennie Otto had to keep going to deliver the coup de grace yesterday with his final- round five-under 67 to win by nine strokes.

He finished on 28-under-par 260, one shot off the Sunshine Tour tournament record of 29 under par set by Mark McNulty in Swaziland in 1987 and equalled by David Frost in the 1994 SA PGA Championship.

He’d set a Pretoria Country Club course record of 11-under 61 in the second round to lead by five, and he had to find some way of keeping his motivation levels up for the final half of the tournament.

“I just went out and approached the round as a matchplay event,” he said.

“Jbe’ Kruger was the only one who could catch me and, fortunately for me, he and Thomas Aiken were the ones who made the mistakes.”

Kruger’s challenge looked to have petered out on the back of some putts that just wouldn’t drop, continuing a trend which began in the third round.

This time his woes were exacerbated by some poor work off the fairways and close to the greens. They were perhaps best exemplified on the 444-metre par-four 10th, where his second was such a poor shot that he ended up a long way from the green. For the umpteenth time, his chip came up short too, and he overshot the green with his fourth.

The resultant double-bogey, while Otto made a good par save, meant Kruger sank back to 10 off the pace, while Tjaart van der Walt was elevated into second for a while.

But he fought back and birdies on 16 and 18 saw him into second, one ahead of Adilson da Silva and Aiken.

Aiken got his final position thanks to a birdie-eagle finish to edge out Michiel Bothma, who finished fifth, with Van der Walt sharing sixth with Grant Veenstra.

But for all the jostling for position, the truth is that Otto’s opponents were out on their feet after a display of golf that the winner rated as close to the best he’s ever played.

Two weeks on his new farm in the Northern Cape — “I’m going to be doing some real work,” he laughed — before he spends a brief period again on the European Tour is going to be a rest well-earned.

Scores (RSA unless specified):

260 -Hennie Otto 65 61 67 67

269 -Jbe’ Kruger 65 66 66 72

270 -Adilson da Silva (BRA) 69 66 69 66, Thomas Aiken 65 66 70 69

271 -Michiel Bothma 66 70 69 66

272 -Tjaart van der Walt 67 66 69 70, Grant Veenstra 70 65 67 70

273 -Alex Haindl 72 66 68 67, Peter Karmis 70 68 67 68

274 -James Kamte 72 65 70 67, Mark Murless 66 68 70 70 – Own Correspondent.

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