Jaco Ahlers’ Investec Cup dream

2015-03-23 00:00

THERE’S a certain satisfaction in this day and age of communication by ­social media when you tweet that you need a low round to win a tournament — then you do it. Jaco Ahlers got his tweet dream to come true yesterday and took home the Investec Cup ­Trophy.

Like his other two victories on the Sunshine Tour, this one came in a playoff as he weathered the challenge of Jaco van Zyl to clinch victory at the third extra hole as both players ­struggled to keep their game intact under the pressure of competing for so much money.

With his victory, Ahlers climbed to the top of the Chase to the Investec Cup rankings and took home R3,5-million over and above his ­tournament winnings of R163 400 — the winner’s share of the R10 million Bonus Pool. It was his biggest payday as a professional and confirmation of a coming-of-age process which began when he won a four-hole playoff to take the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open last November.

“That win gave me a lot of confidence,” said Ahlers.

He started the round like a house on fire. He made three birdies and an eagle in the first seven holes. The ­eagle came on the fourth. “I hit two rescues and ended up in the greenside trap,” he said of the 480-metre ­par-five, “and then I managed to hole the bunker shot.”

Then he bogeyed the eighth – but just about everyone did, as nine of the 30 players dropped shots there. But he picked up three more birdies on the back nine as he marched into a lead which looked increasingly unassailable.

But a missed birdie opportunity at 16 and a bogey on 17 — again a hole which tripped up many of the ­contenders, including last week’s Tshwane Open winner George ­Coetzee who made an ugly ­double-bogey there — meant he had to try and force things a little on 18 to try and win the tournament ­outright.

“My approach went a little left and ended up in the bunker,” he said. “My ball was on a downslope, and the green ran away from me towards the water. My only hope was to hit the flag stick, and I nearly did. But the only thing that matters now is that I won.”

Leaderboard

279 - Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 72 73 68 66 * won on third play-off hole

279 - Jaco Van Zyl (RSA) 73 67 73 66

280 - Justin Harding (RSA) 71 71 73 65, George Coetzee (RSA) 68 70 71 71

281 - Chris Swanepoel (RSA) 73 71 69 68, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 68 74 70 69, Jbe’ Kruger (RSA) 75 71 65 70

283 - Dean Burmester (RSA) 72 71 74 66, Shaun Norris (RSA) 71 73 70 69, Tjaart van der Walt (RSA) 73 71 69 70

285 - Danie van Tonder (RSA) 75 71 72 67, Keith Horne (RSA) 72 73 70 70.

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