Sunshine Tour

SA's Thriston Lawrence records maiden win at chaotic Joburg Open

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South African golfer Thriston Lawrence wins Joburg Open
South African golfer Thriston Lawrence wins Joburg Open
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

South African golfer Thriston Lawrence had a bittersweet victory at the weather-affected and Covid-hit Joburg Open as he won his maiden DP World Tour title on Saturday.

The Joburg Open, which kick-started the new DP World Tour (formerly European Tour) season, had been reduced to 54 holes on Friday following the emergence of a new coronavirus variant founded in South Africa.

16 European players pulled out following Thursday's opening round at Randpark Golf Club, as golfers scrambled to get home to avoid quarantine.

However, the weather had the final say on Saturday as inclement weather reduced the co-sanctioned event to 36 holes.

Lawrence was out on the course after having bogeyed the first when lightning storms and heavy rain left large parts of the course unplayable, as officials called the result.

"It's so surreal. I don't think anyone thought it would turn out this way, to finish on a Saturday afternoon, but I'm just really thankful," said Lawrence.

"It's a life-changing moment for me. It's an unbelievable feeling."

This win is Lawrence's first trophy in just his 22nd DP World Tour event, with six made cuts and a previous best finish of 17th.

The 24-year-old now has a DP World Tour exemption until 2023 and moves to the top of the DP World Tour rankings with 75% points awarded to the field for a 36-hole event. 

"It's a lifelong dream that has come true. I played unbelievable golf these last few days. I had my card on the Sunshine Tour but I really wanted to move on to the next step. It happened so quickly. There's a lot of things that could happen next year," said Lawrence.

"You know now you're on the Tour and you don't have to worry about invites and it gives you a lot of confidence. I wouldn't have thought it last week to be standing here in front of you guys.

"You don't get these opportunities often. I've had four years of co-sanctioned events so you build up experience, but it's just unbelievable."

Four shots behind Lawrence was fellow countryman Zander Lombard, who finished second on eight-under. South African golfer Shaun Norris and England's Ashley Chesters finished tied for third.

The win also hands Lawrence, Lombard and Chesters a place each in the field for next year's Open Championship at St Andrews, with Norris already exempt. 

"It's a lifelong dream (to play The Open) and now it's come true," said Lawrence.

"I've never played a Major, and to play your first ever Major at St Andrews is an unbelievable achievement for me and I can't wait, I'm so excited," said Lawrence.

"It's a bit blurry for me at the moment, I would have liked to have taken it down 18 today and celebrate a winning putt, but it's a lifelong dream not just to play in a Major, but to win a DP World Tour event. From a young age, it's always been a goal of mine and it's an unbelievable feeling to achieve it."

The DP World Tour has pulled out of South Africa and will not co-sanction next week's South African Open at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

Meanwhile, the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek was effectively cancelled due to the new Covid-19 variant.

Final scores of the DP World Tour Joburg Open, at Randpark Golf Club, Johannesburg after bad weather forced the organisers to call it off on Saturday (GBR & IRL unless stated, par 71):

Reduced to 54 holes due to the new coronavirus variant.

130 - Thriston Lawrence (RSA) 65 65

134 - Zander Lombard (RSA) 67 67

135 - Ashley Chesters 66 69, Shaun Norris 68 67

136 - Angel Hidalgo (ESP) 65 71, Frederic Lacroix (FRA) 67 69

137 - Hennie Du Plessis (RSA) 67 70

138 - J. C. Ritchie (RSA) 72 66, Keith Horne (RSA) 71 67, Yannik Paul (GER) 68 70, Heinrich Bruiners (RSA) 68 70

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