Bothma sinks van Zyl in playoff

Michiel Bothma picked up his fourth career victory in the 2010 SAA Pro-Am Invitational at Prince’s Grant Golf Estate.

KWAZULU-NATAL, South Africa – Michiel Bothma is now 2-0 in playoff golf on the Sunshine Tour – thanks to a missed 2-foot putt by his opponent.

Bothma beat the hot-handed Jaco van Zyl on Saturday at the SAA Pro-Am Invitational at Prince’s Grant Golf Estate. It was Bothma’s fourth career victory.

LEADING FINAL-ROUND SCORES

1 206 -10 Michiel Bothma (RSA) 72 68 66

2 206 -10 Jaco Van Zyl (RSA) 67 69 70

3 207 -9 Adilson da Silva (BRA) 70 67 70

4 208 -8 Louis de Jager (RSA) 67 74 67

5 212 -4 Tyrone Mordt (RSA) 74 68 70

6 213 -3 Alex Haindl (RSA) 71 67 75

7= 214 -2 Neil Schietekat (RSA) 72 72 70

Neil Cheetham (ENG) 74 68 72

9 215 -1 Divan van den Heever (RSA) 70 70 75

10= 216 Par Adrian Ford (RSA) 73 73 70

PH McIntyre (RSA) 70 75 71

Titch Moore (RSA) 69 69 78

Van Zyl, a three-time winner this year including a victory last week in Paarl, had a one-shot overnight lead but shot 70 as Bothma shot 66, with both finishing at 10-under 206.

They each birdied the first playoff hole – the 546-yard, par-5 18th – even though Bothma had missed the green right and left the ball hanging on a downslope, perilously close to a small pond. But he still got up-and-down.

Bothma got into trouble again on the second playoff hole, No. 18 again, when his approach shot landed in a greenside bunker. This left the green wide open for van Zyl, but he tugged his approach and landed in thick rough, farther from the green than Bothma.

Van Zyl’s chip stopped short on the fringe and left a long putt, which he subsequently ran 2 feet past the pin.

Having little green to work with, Bothma flew his third shot past the hole to land on the green’s fringe.

Bothma made his 3-foot putt for par after his fourth shot skidded past the hole.

Another playoff hole looked certain. But incredibly, van Zyl’s par attempt lipped out, handing victory to Bothma.

Bothma thought his chances had evaporated when he closed the second round with bogey-double bogey. “But then I remembered my win in the Telkom PGA Championship in February,” he said of a victory where his final-round 63 torched the field.

On Saturday, he made four birdies on the front nine to put pressure on van Zyl and on defending champion Adilson Da Silva, who finished third after a final-round 70.

Three more birdies and a bogey put Bothma in the clubhouse at 10 under. Van Zyl pulled himself together with four birdies on the way home – including a clutch birdie on the 18th – to force the playoff.

Da Silva also needed a birdie on No. 18 to get into the playoff, but a poor tee shot left him with too much work for anything but a par.

After a grinding season on the European Tour and the Challenge Tour, Bothma was glad to be home.

“I like playing in the warmth,” he said.

Sunshine Tour contributed to this report.

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