South African Michiel Bothma had earned victory on his native Sunshine Tour, but for five seasons he had toiled on the Challenge Tour without similar success.
On Sunday, that drought finally came to an end.
Carding a 68 in the final round, marred only by a bogey on No. 5, Bothma claimed a two-stroke victory at the Barclays Kenya Open held at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Kenya.
Bothma played in the final group with his cousin Branden Grace and roommate André Bossert – the familiar faces eased his nerves and allowed him to triumph over fellow South African Tyrone Ferreira.
Despite finding trouble off the tee, Bothma, 38, recovered to notch his third birdie at the tenth hole and gained another stroke at the 15th – giving him an advantage that he wouldn’t relinquish.
Bothma received the trophy from Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and a winner’s check for €30,400 which moved him to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings. It also positioned him well for a chance of claiming his first European Tour card.
“I really enjoyed playing with Branden and André today, we were laughing and joking the whole way round, which helped to settle the nerves,” Bothma said. “There weren’t many leaderboards out there so I didn’t know what everyone else was doing, but I didn’t hear any big roars so I was pretty confident of winning, as long as I didn’t do anything silly.”
He added: “Now I’m the winner of the Barclays Kenya Open, which makes me a very proud man. And to follow in the footsteps of Trevor [Immelman, a former Kenya Open champion] is obviously a huge honor. The goal now is to get onto The European Tour, and then after that, who knows? If Vijay Singh can become the World No. 1 at 42, then surely I can get into the top 50 at the same age!”
Ferreira’s runner-up finish secured the South African €20,900 in prize money and a spot in the next event on the Challenge Tour Schedule, the Allianz Challenge de France.
Neither Bossert nor Grace count mount a rally, finishing five shots behind Bothma with rounds of 71 and 70, respectively. They finished in a tie for third, along with England’s Sam Walker, who closed with a round of 66.