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13 Oct 2003 00:00
Dion Fourie marked his return to the Sunshine Tour after a three-year absence with a dramatic one-stroke victory in the Bearing Man Highveld Classic at the Witbank Golf Club on Sunday.
Fourie birdied three of his final four holes to clinch his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour at 15 under par 201 with a final round of 68.
Fourie’s victory comes after his finish of tied fourth in last week’s Seekers Travel Pro-Am at Dainfern, which in turn was his first tournament back after taking three years off the circuit.
“I think the reason I’m playing well is that I’m just so happy to be back on tour again,” said Fourie, admitting that working a normal five-day week in an office just wasn’t for him.
Fourie began the final round three strokes behind 20-year-old Divan van den Heever, who led the field on 14 under par.
A tight final round saw as many as five players tied for the lead on 13 under par, including Van Den Heever and Fourie.
Ashley Roestoff, the loser in a play-off for last week’s Seekers Travel Pro-Am, made his move and broke free of the pack with a birdie at the par five 10th to lead on his own on 14 under.
But he carded successive bogeys at holes 13 and 14 to drop to 12 under and throw the tournament wide open again.
Rookie professional Albert Kruger, also coming off a top five finish last week, threw his name into the hat with a final round of 67 to make it into the clubhouse on 13 under par.
Then Tyrol Auret, whose final round charge last year yielded a 62 for a top five finish on that occasion, signed for a 66 to also be in the clubhouse on 13 under.
Desvonde Botes added to the tension with his 65 to set a new clubhouse target of 14 under par.
Out on the course, Fourie was on 13 under with three holes to come and then displayed the maturity he said he gained in his three-year absence from the tour.
“It was getting quite ridiculous with all the names on the leader board,” he said.
“I felt like we were trying to force the birdies to come, and that’s when I said to my caddie that we just needed to chill out and they would come on their own.”
The result was a 14-footer for birdie at 15, a birdie at the short 16th and then a tap-in for birdie at the par five 17th after leaving his 12-foot eagle putt right in the throat of the hole.
With that Fourie surged to 16 under par and seemingly in the clear coming down the last.
But in the group behind him, Van Den Heever still had something in his game.
Playing in the group ahead of him, Fourie dropped at the 18th to share the lead with Van Den Heever. But the latter, playing his second from the middle of the 18th fairway, found the bunker with his approach. He just managed to get the ball out on to the fringe and proceeded to bogey the hole to hand Fourie the win.
Van Den Heever, with a final round of 72, and Botes shared second on 14 under par.—Sapa
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