Ryan Cairns pulled two strokes clear of his contenders by the turn on Wednesday and didn’t look back on his way to a two-stroke victory at the Sunshine Big Easy Tour Observatory tournament presented by Stonehage.
“It was weird going into the second nine, because I was two ahead at the turn and shot 28 on that nine yesterday. I didn’t want to get stuck into ‘yesterday’ mode, because then expectation comes into it, and that’s a killer. I just took every shot as it came and that worked for me,” he said.
The Zimbabwean shot 63 during round one, and on Wednesday added 66 to the tally, moving to 15-under-par and claiming a two-shot victory over runner-up Jeff Inglis.
“I was very diligent with my routine, and that was the difference this week. I’ve been working really hard on my game since September. This week really came out of nowhere, because I’ve been playing well, but I haven’t been scoring well. I haven’t broken 70 in three months and then in two days I go 15-under, so the hard work has paid off,” said Cairns.
The 28-year-old raced around the par-37 front stretch in 32 after an eagle at the second catapulted him to the lead. “At the second I hit driver off the tee, and then I had 184 to the hole and I took a seven-iron to 20 feet and then rolled it in. It was a really, really good way to start the day,” he said.
While an incredible 61 players finished the tournament below par, Cairns’ prowess around the greens was the key to his success and he added: “My short game was very sharp. I chipped in twice this week. I feel very confident around the greens, which feeds into the rest of your game. You know that if you miss a green you can chip and putt, so you have far more confidence off the tee.”
Inglis shot an astounding 62 yesterday, but could not maintain his frenetic pace and shot 69 in the second round to take sole possession of second.
A further stroke back were Thabang Simon, Ruan de Smidt and Danie van Tonder. Simon won the Big Easy Tour’s ERPM tournament last year and showed that he still has what it take to challenge.
Van Tonder and De Smidt are two of the Sunshine Tour’s leading rookies and once again showed that there is a healthy rivalry developing amongst the youngsters of the Tour with their share of third.
After a very dry spell, Cairns was elated with his victory and set his sights on loftier goals. “It was very special to win and I take a lot of confidence away from this. The Zimbabwe Open starts in three weeks; it’s at my home course and that’s the one I really want to prepare for. There is a lot of sentimental value to the Zim Open for me, and this is a great way to go into it,” he said.