BRYCE Easton produced a round of his life matching the Royal Harare Golf Club course record to win the 2018 edition of the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Durban-born 30-year-old professional fired a bogey free nine under-par 63 for a tournament total of 16-under to finish a shot ahead of compatriot Daniel van Tonder.
After becoming the ninth successive South African to win the country’s flagship golf tournament, Easton walked away with R317 000.
“It’s a great event (the Old Mutual Zimbabwe) and one of my favourite events, an event which has always been close to my heart to win in, I can’t really describe it,” Easton said afterwards.
He felt starting the final round behind the leading pack headed by defending champion JC Ritchie played to his advantage.
“I played pretty well for most of the week, even though I shot 73 yesterday I thought I played really week. Maybe being a little bit behind yesterday helped me, it is a different ball game when you’re in front and have all the attention from the get-go,” Easton said.
Van Tonder had an opportunity to force a playoff, but missed a birdie chance on the final hole to settle for a second after carding a 65, while Peter Karmis and Christiaan Basson were a shot back on 13-under par.
Defending champion Ritchie finished in a tie for fifth on 12-under with Englishman Steven Surry, Justin Harding while Jaco Ahlers was alone in third on 11-under.
The day, however, belonged to Easton, who had started the day six shots behind overnight leader Ritchie, who had looked on course to become the first back to back winner of the Zimbabwe Open in 20 years.
While Ritchie wilted under pressure on the final day, Easton saved his best for last, starting his final round with three consecutive birdies before, further gains on holes five, six and eight to make the turn in 30.
Easton made a further three birdies on the back nine to set the clubhouse lead at 16-under which in the end proved enough to secure his first third Sunshine Tour victory and first since winning the Vodacom Origins of Golf (Zebula) title six years ago.
Royal Harare Golf Club professional, Ryan Cairns was the highest placed Zimbabwean on the leaderboard after carding his third consecutive 70 for a tournament total of six-under-par.
Mark Williams was a shot back on five-under after rebounding from a 74 on Saturday to card a two-under 70 yesterday, while Robson Chinhoi was two shots back on three-under in a tie for 38.
The duo of Marc Cayeux and Trainos Muradzikwa finished in a tie for 43 on one-under par for the tournament.