Ritchie wins Zim Open

HARARE - There is bound to be ecstasy for one man and anguish for the other during the final round of any golf championship.

This is exactly what happened yesterday when JC Ritchie beat Trevor Fisher Jnr on the second play-off hole to lift the Zimbabwe Open and walk away with a R285 300 cheque.

The two golfers from South Africa were tied on 16-under par 272 at the end of 72 holes after another gruelling day on the course.

“I actually started the week off quite rough. I was seven-over-par after seven holes. I made that eagle-two on the ninth and that’s where it turned around for me,” Ritchie, who shot a 64 yesterday, told reporters after his win.

“I felt last night that 63 today would definitely win by one. I didn’t expect Fish to make double on the 17th, he was playing unreal golf. When I got onto 15 tee box I knew I needed three more (birdies). I hit an unreal second shot into 16 and lipped out for eagle.”

Ritchie, who had never won before on the Sunshine Tour circuit, began the day on eight-under par some five shots behind Fisher.

The 23-year-old, however, had a bogey free final round and missed the Royal course record by just one shot when he carded a 64.

Although it was a fantastic round, by the time Ritchie walked off the 18th green, it was not enough to win the championship as Fisher had just moved to 18-under par when he scored an eagle at the par-5 number 16.

Fortunately for Ritchie, the nerves got the better of Fisher at the difficult next hole number 17.

Fisher found the bunker with his approach and ended up dropping two shots as he needed six strokes to complete the par-4 hole.

There was still another chance for a birdie at the 18th for Fisher to regain the lead but by the time the he took his tee shot, Ritchie was already on the practice green already anticipating a play-off.

Fisher Jnr could only get a par on the final hole which meant a play-off to find the winner.

The double bogey on 17 had clearly affected Fisher heading in the play-off and memories of 2012 probably came back to haunt him.

That year, Fisher was also beaten on the second play-off hole by Chris Swanepoel in dramatic circumstances.

The two all made par at the first play-off hole as they could not be separated again.

Fisher, who found the fairway, thought his luck might have changed when Ritchie landed in the rough and behind a tree with his tee shot from the second play-off hole.

It seemed Ritchie was destined to get his first win in Harare because he managed to find the green from the rough.

Fisher also found the green from the fairway but it left him with a 16-foot for birdie which he two-putted for par.

It was all left to Ritchie, who sealed his first win on the Sunshine Tour, with a right to left 13-foot putt.

“That was unreal golf. I really enjoyed it and never really felt like I was out of contention. It was one of the best putting expositions I’ve had in my entire life,” he said.

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