Krog tops Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year charts

Professional golfer Stuart Krog has shot to the top of the Fortress Rookie of the Year standings after a strong showing at the FNB Eswatini Challenge at Nkonyeni

ZIMBABWEAN professional golfer Stuart Krog has shot to the top of the Fortress Rookie of the Year standings after a strong showing at the FNB Eswatini Challenge at Nkonyeni last weekend.

The Rookie of the Year award is the Sunshine Tour’s most prestigious accolade for young talent and traditionally rewards the best performing rookie professional on the Tour for that season.

It is sponsored by Fortress Real Estate Investments Limited, who have expanded their support of next-generation golfers on the Tour and the rookie professional who finishes the highest on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit at the end of the current season will take home R200 000 in prize money.

Krog carded a final-round 3-under 69 at the Nkonyeni Lodge and Golf Estate, to finish second at nine under, one shot behind winner Peter Karmis from Greece.

The result was Krog’s best since earning his Sunshine Tour card three months ago and almost assured his playing privileges on tour next season.

The 27-year-old Zimbabwean has amassed 234.96 points to lead the race for the best newcomer on the Tour while South African Jonathan Broomhead and Yurav Premlall occupy second and third place with 152.77 and 99.06 points at this stage.

While he lost the title, he went into the last day in a strong position last week. Krog was pleased with his performance and relished the opportunity to be in contention for the first time on the Sunshine Tour as he overcame a six shot deficit to briefly take the lead in the final round before coming short by one stroke.

“The week was an awesome experience,” Krog told Zim Sport Live

“It was great to be in contention, unfortunately coming up just short. This was a great learning experience and will set up the rest of my year nicely to keep moving up the order of merit.

“Starting the final round six shots back my goal was just to give myself a chance so at the end of the day I did that and I can hold my head high. I am now almost certain to keep my Tour card for next season so it feels good to have some security heading into the rest of the season,” Krog said.

Meanwhile, it was an emotional win for 42-year-old Karmis as he celebrated his first Sunshine Tour victory since August 2018.

The experienced South-African born Greek star showed his experience as he finished with three straight pars, while Krog suffered a costly double-bogey on the par-four 16th hole.

“You need a bit of luck and things went my way, especially at the death,” Karmis said. “I was trying not to get too excited and on the last couple of holes I was very nervous.

“Some guys shy away from nerves, they try and fix it, but that can become very difficult. I prefer to embrace it and enjoy the nerves.

“I know it’s been five years since I won, but we were in lockdown for a long time and I had a struggle with injury. So it feels like I had three years off,” Karmis said.

Karmis fired a two-under-par 70 in Saturday’s final round to finish on 10-under-par overall, edging out Krog (69) on nine-under for his seventh Sunshine Tour title.

Matthew Spacey, who enjoyed a four-stroke lead going into the last day, stumbled to a 76 on Saturday and ended up sharing third place on eight-under-par with Louis Albertse (67), last week’s winner CJ du Plessis (68) and Ruan Korb (69).

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