Sunshine Tour rookie in 5th start claims Namibia PGA
Sunday, March 20, 2011
From two meters off the green, JG Claassen struck his putt on the 16th hole of Windhoek Country Club. When it went in, it provided the decisive blow that yielded Claassen a victory at the MTC Namibia PGA Championship.
Not a bad way to claim your first professional win, especially considering this was just Claassen's fifth start as a pro.
“It’s been a bit of struggle,” he admitted after he had dropped to his knees in relief before leaving to sign his scorecard, “but this more than makes up for the tough times I’ve had this year.”
After the dramatic putt, Claassen proceeded to craft a six-under-par 65 for his final round, which was the best round of the day. He finished at 16-under-par 268, one clear of overnight leader Christiaan Basson. Josh Cunliffe finished another two shots behind.
“Christiaan had a putt for birdie on 16,” said Claassen, “so I was just trying to get mine close, take par and get going again on 17.”
On the 18th, Claassen's approach found the fringe to the left of the big green. He putted again, but went three feet past the hole, leaving himself with a knee-trembler to secure the victory.
Claassen missed the cut in his first tournament as a pro in the Joburg Open, but two weeks later, he earned his first check with a share of 20th in the Zimbabwe Open. He earned R14,291.66.
He then missed cuts in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and the Telkom PGA Championship, prompting him to head to Namibia more with hope than confidence.
He opened with a 69 and then a pair of consecutive 67s put him in contention.
“I did feel the pressure,” Claassen conceded, “but I just concentrated on what I was doing, and, when I got those birdies on 15 and 16, I knew I had a chance.”
That chance proved bountiful, giving him a winner's check of R190,200.