Mark Williams in maiden win

JOHANNESBURG - He called a penalty shot on himself at the tournament at St Francis Links last year, and lost by one, but Mark Williams turned that all around yesterday as he cruised to a two-stroke victory in the R750 000 Vodacom Origins of Golf Final played there.

Although the Zimbabwean closed with a double-bogey six this time around, after hitting his tee shot into the water on 18, he had built up a four-stroke cushion over runner-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout heading up the final fairway, and he drank in the pleasure of winning his maiden Sunshine Tour title after 14 years on the circuit. He carded a two-under 70 for an 11-under-par total of 205.

“That two-iron worked for 53 holes, so I can’t blame it for one shot,” said Williams. “And I think I missed just one green after making bogey on the second, so everything was under control, really.”

Last year’s penalty shot came when his ball moved on the second fairway, and it cost him a chance of contesting a play-off with the eventual winner Christiaan Basson. “It’s great to come back here and to win my first title,” said Williams.

That near miss was one of many over the last two years for the big Zimbabwean, and the victory has underlined the skills of a man who has looked a potential champion for a long time now.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he admitted. “It’s nice to finally get it under the belt. The belief has been there for the last 18 months. I’ll take the win, even with the shaky finish.”

It wasn’t that confident a start, either: He bogeyed the second, but he quickly made up for that with a chip-in eagle three on the third.

But after that, he settled into his work, and birdies on six, eight and 14 eased him clear of Bezuidenhout, who played solidly throughout, but was unable to produce any sustained pressure on Williams.

Keith Horne, Madalitso Muthiya of Zambia and Jacques Blaauw shared third place at six-under-par 210, with Nigerian Andrew Odoh on five-under in sixth place.

For Williams, the victory was about opening doors in the future, rather than getting a monkey off his back.

“Getting into the winner’s category on the Sunshine Tour makes a big difference in terms of tournaments I can get into,” he said, “And I hope I can be in there more often now.” — Sunshine Tour


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