Jaco holds his nerve for maiden victory
JACO AHLERS claimed a maiden professional victory when he beat Ulrich van den Berg in a playoff to win the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Tour at Erinvale in Somerset West yesterday.
Ahlers and Van Den Berg finished regulation play tied for the lead on nine under par following respective rounds of 71 and 68.
Playing the par-four 18th as the first playoff hole, Ahlers produced a sublime approach to three feet and holed the putt for birdie and the title.
Van Den Berg parred to finish second in a tournament reduced to 36 holes because of bad weather.
“I’ve come close a few times and at last it’s happened for me,” said Ahlers, who led the first round by two strokes following an eight-under-par 64.
On the final day he went out in one over par for the round, while ahead of him Jaco van Zyl made a strong charge.
Van Zyl closed with a 65, including a back nine of 30, to set the clubhouse target at eight under par. Playing with Ahlers, Van Den Berg had climbed to 10 under par playing the par-four 17th.
But his second finished well short of the green and he went on to make bogey. Ahlers then holed a 25-foot putt for birdie to see them tied on nine under playing the last.
“That was a big putt for me,” said Ahlers. “To be honest, I just tried to get my putt close and I’m glad the hole jumped in front of it because it had a bit of speed. But it went in and the rest is history.” Van Den Berg had a birdie chance to take the title in regulation play, but left his putt inches short of the hole to take them into the playoff.
“I knew something had to happen, and that a good round was on the cards this week,” said Ahlers. “It came with my first round of 64, and then I just kept on going and playing one shot at a time.
“Walking down the fairway on 18 in the playoff, my caddie said to me, ‘ Listen, there are only two places here – first and first loser. So go for the pin and don’t play safe.’ I had the perfect yardage and I couldn’t have asked for a better result.”
The tournament also marked the first time this season that the Birdies for Kiddies initiative, which forms part of this series, crossed the million rand mark this year.
Vodacom has agreed to donate R500 to various charities for every birdie made by a professional on this year’s Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Tour.
A total of 456 birdies were made this week for a sum of R228,000, taking the overall total in the four tournaments to date to R1,145,000. – Sapa
FIRST WIN: Jaco Ahlers triumphed in the Origins of Golf event