Malelane – He signed his Sunshine Tour year off with a one-under-par 71 in the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Sunday, and while that was not enough to contend for the title, Rourke van der Spuy sealed his victory in the Rookie of the Year race.
In the end, his winnings from the Leopard Creek tournament were enough to draw him well clear of his nearest rival, Zander Lombard, but it was a close run thing as he was just under R2,000 ahead going into the final event of the regular 2015 season according to the Sunshine Tour website.
“It’s a good feeling to start my career on the Sunshine Tour by winning Rookie of the Year,” said Van der Spuy. “It’s been a fun year – it’s been a lot of golf and a nice way to finish off this week in this tournament. It’s a great cap to a great year.”
He built his success on his victory on October in the Sun Fish River Sun Challenge by one stroke over Merrick Bremner. He also had two other top-10 finishes during the year, but didn’t seal the rookie race until Lombard missed the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open cut and didn’t make it into the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
“Winning was a nice boost for me in trying to chase Zander down, and from then on, it was really tight,” Van der Spuy said. “It was a good race and all the guys played hard and it was a fun battle.”
While he would have liked to have finished things off with a better performance than he delivered at Leopard Creek, he was pleased to have achieved something he set out to do when he got his card with a fourth-place finish in January’s Qualifying School.
“It feels good to know my name is going to be on the Bobby Locke trophy,” he said. “It was a goal when I started at the beginning of the year, but I tried not to think about it too much because I had to take care of the golf, but I’m very happy with the achievement.
“I’m off to Australia for the Australian PGA Championship next week, and that will be my final tournament for the season. I’m looking forward to the break after that. It’s short and then I’m looking forward to jumping right back in with the nice big ones on the Sunshine Tour early in the New Year.”
Amongst those big ones will be the BMW South African Open Championship. “I haven’t played the SA Open before,” he said. “I tried to qualify for it a few times, so it’s going to be special to play that. I think my dad will be on the bag for that which will make it more special.”
And he won’t be resting on his laurels in 2016. “I will take the new season one tournament at a time, but I’ll be looking for the next win,” he said.