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Golf | SA

Oliver Bekker © Gallo Images

Bekker triumphs at Telkom Pro-Am



Oliver Bekker became the first Sunshine Tour champion of 2013 at Centurion Country Club on Friday, shooting a third-round 66 to win the Telkom PGA Pro-Am by two strokes.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this. It’s the first time I’m starting out a year with a win, so it’s an awesome feeling and I’m very happy at the moment,” he said.

The big man from Stellenbosch reached an impressive 20-under-par total after three rounds and wrapped up a two-stroke victory over Ryan Strauss and PH McIntyre.

“I played a solid round of golf today,” said Bekker. “It was probably my best ball-striking of the week, and under the pressure I’d say I did very well for myself.”

The 28-year-old rose to new heights last year with his 10th place finish on the 2012 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and had to set new goals for the 2013 season. Starting with a victory was certainly in line with his aims.

Sunshine Tour players are racing to make enough points to earn one of 30 spots in a limited-field, R6-million rand tournament – the Investec Cup. 13 Events on the Sunshine Tour schedule, beginning with the BMG Classic and ending with the Telkom PGA Championship, offer up such points. Bekker’s victory counted for 130 Investec Cup points and took him to 10th in the race.

Ryan Strauss graduated from Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School a fortnight ago, yet displayed nerves of steel on Friday as he sped around Centurion Country Club in 64 strokes.

“To start the season so well is the biggest relief ever. My ball-striking has been amazing – I think I missed three greens out of 54 holes this week. The game just felt solid, and it all just came to the party,” he said.

The 26-year-old gains entry to the Joburg Open with his share of second, and after competing with the top Sunshine Tour players was ready to challenge Europe’s best.

“We had guys like James Kingston and Ross McGowan out here, and I feel over the moon after competing with them. I was very nervous today, knowing that I had to put in a really good round, but I managed to do it. It’s sinking in, but it will take a little while. Let’s hope I can carry this form through to the Joburg Open,” he said.

PH McIntyre had a chance to take sole second, but his birdie putt at the 18th lipped out. The Heidelberg local joined Strauss on 18-under-par and the pair each took home a cool R58 500.

FINAL SCORES (RSA unless stated)

196 – Oliver Bekker 66 64 66

198 – Ryan Strauss 68 66 64, PH McIntyre 66 64 68

202 – MJ Daffue 70 67 65, Shaun Norris 68 67 67, Matthew Carvell 64 69 69

203 – Ryan Tipping 67 72 64

204 – Tyrone Ferreira 69 67 68, Desvonde Botes 70 62 72, Steven Ferreira 65 67 72

205 – Ulrich van den Berg 72 67 66, Toto Thimba 69 69 67, Jean Hugo 69 68 68, Teboho Sefatsa 71 66 68, Martin du Toit 71 66 68, Ross McGowan (Eng) 64 70 71

206 – Johan Bekker 66 73 67, Louis de Jager 68 70 68, James Kingston 68 68 70

207 – Theunis Spangenberg 71 69 67, Jared Harvey 68 69 70, Tjaart van der Walt 69 67 71

208 – Ryan Cairns (Zim) 71 68 69, Dawie Van der Walt 66 72 70, JJ Senekal 67 71 70

209 – Wynand Dingle 68 73 68, Colin Nel 69 72 68, Albert Pistorius 74 66 69, Anthony Michael 70 70 69, Wallie Coetsee 67 67 75

210 – Charl Coetzee 74 67 69, Michael du Toit 69 72 69, Tyrone Mordt 71 69 70, Mark Murless 70 68 72, Lyle Rowe 71 66 73

211 – David Hewan 67 74 70, Warren Abery 71 66 74

212 – Joshua Cunliffe 73 68 71, Tyrone Ryan 73 67 72, Grant Muller 70 69 73, Ockie Strydom 67 72 73

213 – Morne Buys 69 71 73

214 – Ruan de Smidt 73 65 76, Riekus Nortje 67 69 78

216 – Alex Haindl 71 70 75

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