Otto cruises to victory in Dimension Data Pro-Am

Hennie Otto during the 2010 Madrid Masters.

Hennie Otto during the 2010 Madrid Masters.

GEORGE, South Africa – With a steady hand down the stretch, and a deft wedge to tap-in range on the 18th, Hennie Otto cruised to a four-stroke victory Feb. 20 in the Dimension Data Pro-Am. Otto’s 10th career victory on the Sunshine Tour was worth 475,500 rand ($66,700) and an exemption into the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in August.

Entering the final round one stroke back of George Coetzee, Otto shot a final-round 68 to finish four strokes ahead of James Kingston on the Montagu course at Fancourt Resort. Otto’s last full shot – a wedge to a foot on the 18th – was indicative of the kind of play he exhibited all week.

“I was hitting those kinds of shots well all week,” said Otto, who finished at 16-under 273, “and my putting also started coming right after I went back to my old putter.”

Otto, 34, won for the first time since his runaway victory at last year’s Vodacom Championship, where over four rounds he shot 28 under par and fell one stroke shy of tying the Sunshine Tour’s scoring record. While his triumph in George lacked those theatrics, it proved no less impressive. After making the turn in 1 under, Otto made four more birdies coming in to distance himself from the field.

“It was a bit of a quiet patch after that (victory at the Vodacom),” Otto said, “but I have been working hard all the time, and I’m starting to reap the fruit of that.”

Coetzee stayed in contention until two bogeys down the stretch derailed his chances. He closed with 74 and finished in solo third. “George made a few mistakes, and I took advantage of that,” Otto said. “It was a game of patience.”

Kingston (68) also made a final-round charge to post his second runner-up finish in the past two weeks, after nearly forcing a playoff in last week’s European Tour event in Dubai. He moved to fifth on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit, one spot ahead of Otto, who has earned 577,316 rand ($80,970) in two starts this season.

As for the exemption into the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this summer in Akron, Ohio, Otto said he’s looking forward to testing his game against the best players in the world.

“It means a lot for players like me who are on the European Tour,” Otto said. “Because it counts for the Race to Dubai, it’s quite important. I have been there four or five times before, and I’m looking forward to going over again this year. I hope I can have a good one this year.” m

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