10 July 2018 – Christiaan Burke came out tops in the final Nomads National Order of Merit event when he beat Martin Vorster with a brilliant birdie on the first play-off hole at Bryanston Country Club to claim his first title on the top tier.
The 17-year-old from Potchefstroom has won several club championships and Open events on the North West roster, but success in the national event was by far the biggest of his burgeoning career.
On a day of high drama and twists and turns, the lead changed hands regularly.
Overnight leader Ryan van der Klis from Kyalami Country Club, Daniel van Seumeren from East London Golf Club, Burke and Vorster from Mossel Bay all took turns at the top, but after 13 holes, Vorster took charge after he followed up birdies at 13 and 15 with a stunning eagle on the par five 17th.
The Southern Cape junior closed with a 67 to set the clubhouse target at nine-under 135.
Burke, playing in the final group, was two off the pace after a bogey at the par four 16th. He showed great mental fortitude and responded to Vorster’s three at the penultimate hole with an eagle of his own.
The North West golfer forfeited the chance to win outright when he missed a birdie putt at the final hole and a par at 18 set the stage for a shootout between Burke and Vorster.
Both players pulled their tee shots left.
Vorster had tree trouble and was forced to draw a gap-wedge around the trees. He finished three meters left over the green and chipped it to give, but it was too little, too late. Burke’s approach pitched in front of the flag and boxed a foot-long birdie putt for the win.
The victory which moved Burke to sixth in the overall Junior Rankings, delivered a big injection of confidence.
“This is a huge win for me,” said Burke. “My team-mates from North West (Andre van Dyk and Herman du Plessis) told me at the 17th tee that Martin was putting for eagle. So I knew that I needed an eagle to force a play-off.
“It is one thing knowing what you have to do, and another to execute the shots, but I hit two great shots and knocked the putt in to give myself a chance. Going up against Martin was tough, because he drives it a land-mile and his short game is always solid.
“But I played really well all day and when we both hit our tee shots left at 18, I knew this was my chance. I had 123 metres flag and I hit a great sand-wedge to a foot. I am really stoked, because I’ve worked so hard to win at this level.
“There are a huge bunch of really good juniors on the circuit at the moment, and this makes me really happy and confident that I can beat all of them. My biggest goal is to represent South Africa in the All Africa Junior Golf Challenge and ultimately, the Junior Golf World Cup in Japan.
“I have some positive momentum right now, so I’ll take it to Irene Country Club on Thursday. I’d love to go back-to-back in the Tshwane Junior Open, One thing is certain: I definitely want to keep on improving my ranking.”
Shaun Jones from Ruimsig rounded out the top three on 137 after closing with a final round 68.
Click HERE for the Final Result
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA.