Fine finish: Theft victim Pieters grabs BMG finale
GAUTENG, South Africa – Having golf clubs sure makes a difference.
Two weeks after his golf clubs were stolen from his home, Brandon Pieters made par on the first playoff hole Sunday to win the BMG Classic over Ben Mannix of England.
His fourth career victory on the Sunshine Tour was even sweeter after incurring a fine for missing last week’s Nashua Masters. The theft left the South African without conforming clubs, and he had to get a new set from Ping, his sponsor.
“I should get fined more often,” Pieters jokingly said, “because the last time I was fined, I won my first tournament as a pro last year in Pretoria.”
In third place, rookie Steven Ferreira had his best professional finish at 10-under 206 after a closing 66, while Jean Hugo, a three-time winner this year, placed fourth at 8 under after a closing 69.
Pieters and Mannix ended regulation tied at 11-under 205 after 54 holes.
But Mannix’s chances were short-lived after a poor tee shot landed in the trees on the first playoff hole. His approach landed 30 yards past the pin. Mannix three-putted for a double-bogey 6, while Pieters tapped in for par and victory.
Pieters started the day in a hurry with an eagle-3 on No. 2. But bogeys at Nos. 3 and 7 set him back.
He made his run on the back nine with four birdies to close with a 66 – his best of the tournament.
But Mannix wasn’t going away: From three strokes off the pace, he leapt into contention with an eagle-3 on No. 15 and a birdie on No. 16.
An 8-footer for birdie on No. 18 would have sealed the victory for the Englishman, but his putt slid past the right lip of the hole.
With his best-ever finish on the Sunshine Tour, Mannix is now qualified for the €1 million Alfred Dunhill Championship next month. A good performance there would get him into the 100th SA Open Championship in Durban.
For Pieters, Sunday’s victory made a dismal 2010 a little easier to swallow. Coming into the BMG, he recorded only one top-10 finish after a lucrative three-win season in 2009.
Sunshine Tour contributed to this report.