Hard work and good advice paid off for Johan Bekker on Friday, whose long-overdue first victory came in a playoff win against Teboho Sefatsa in the Sunshine Big Easy Tour Modderfontein tournament.
“I started feeling confident and just pulled through and went for it. It feels amazing - I was expecting this in the next few months, and it feels like it’s a long time coming. I’m very happy with a win, and I hope there’s more to come,” said Bekker.
He shot a second-round 70 at Modderfontein Golf Club to reach five-under-par and force a playoff, which he eventually won, along with the winner’s share of the R100 000 prizefund presented by Stonehage.
“My dad always says: ‘Winning come from deserving it, and it’s from hard work and working on the right things.’ You can’t expect to win if you don’t do your part and get the right people around you. This is just an amazing feeling,” he said.
The 26-year-old smashed his drive during the playoff, hitting it so long that he nearly ran out of fairway, and then planted his second shot just six feet from the pin. When asked about the playoff he said: “On 18 there’s a lot of space on the left, and my natural shot is a draw, so I had to set up for a cut. I absolutely trusted it and bombed the drive down the fairway. I was a bit behind the tree, but I hit an unbelievable second shot over the tree. The birdie putt was in the middle of the hole all the way, but it just lipped out at the end.”
Sefatsa shot a credible second-round 68, which set the clubhouse lead at five-under. During the playoff he also made the green in two, but a disappointing three-putt eliminated his shot at victory.
Once five-under was posted, Divan Gerber, Coenie Stoop and Ross Wellington were excluded from the running, and those three players eventually shared third at four-under-par.
There were a few nervous moments for Bekker on Friday, who had a few blowouts when in contention last year, but he got that monkey off his back. “I’ve led tournaments four times before, and each time it gets easier. I had a couple of bad swings today – on 11 I had a shocker and made bogey. But what really settled me down were the birdies on 13 and 14. On the 14th I nearly hit a hole-in-one; I pitched it about two inches from the hole, and that swing really gave me confidence,” he said.
He joins a host of first-time winners on the Big Easy Tour, and took much away from the result. “There’s actually no difference between this and the Sunshine Tour,” he said. “It’s all the mindset, and if you play good golf and shoot solid scores then you are going to perform.”
The future looks bright for the Modderfontein champion, who heads for the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open next week. “I’m flying on Monday to Zimbabwe, and I can take a lot out of this week, just knowing that you can do it. If you get into a good position after two or three rounds, you know that you have done this and you’ve been there. I had doubts that I could pull through, and this gives me a lot of hope for my golf career,” he said.