Ernest Ludick of Centurion birdied the first play-off hole to win the Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series title at Waterkloof GC on Sunday 27 October 2019.
The Mooinooi golfer won the play-off against Kieron van Wyk of Ruimsig CC and Rorisang Nkosi of Pecanwood GC, who had earlier matched his 18-hole score of 69. Keira Floyd of Ebotse Golf and Country Estate narrowly missed out on the play-off, finishing 4th with a 70.
Ernest, who lives on the Zwartkops Golf Estate, was in a confident mood on the 10th tee having played the first nine in 2 under. A par on 10 followed by a birdie on 11, before his day began to unravel with bogeys on 12 and 13.
“I stood on the tee of the 14th and told myself to slow down and breathe,” said the 17-year-old. “It worked as he parred the next 3 holes.”
On the tee of the par 3 17th Ernest realised he would likely need to finish birdie, birdie for any chance of winning. But the pin on the 178m hole was tucked left front, right up against the water – with a right to left cross wind. Ernest bravely took on the dangerous pin position, aiming his 6 iron just right of the flag and trusting his swing.
“The ball rode the wind towards the flagstick and finished 2 feet behind the hole. I made birdie,” he explained.
On the final hole, Ernest hit one of his best drives of the day, followed by a great approach leaving 7-foot for eagle for the par 5. He missed the tricky downhill left to right putt but a birdie was good enough for 69 and a spot in the 3-way play-off.
“I was extremely nervous before the play-off, but knew if I kept my mind clear, focused on the now and played my own game I would definitely stand a chance of winning,” said Ernest.
His soaring drive on the first play-off hole left just 45m to the flagstick, followed by a pitch to 6-feet and an uphill left to right putt for victory.
With the win Ernest qualified for the Bridge Junior Series regional final, where he will compete for the ultimate prize – an all-expenses paid trip to the North and South Junior Championship at Pinehurst, USA in July 2020.
“The opportunity to win a spot at Pinehurst is a big reason for entering the Bridge Junior Series. But the Series is also a big attraction because it draws juniors from all unions, which provides that ‘big tournament’ feel,” said Ernest, whose golfing ambitions are to play the US PGA tour and become the number one golfer in the world.
“Ernest displayed nerves of steel to win with a birdie on the first play-off hole,” said Paul Stewart, Chief Executive at Bridge Fund Managers. “We look forward to seeing what he can produce at our regional finals in April 2020.”
The juniorseries.bridgefm.co.za launched in 2017, is managed by the SA Golf Development Board and endorsed by GolfRSA. Open to boys and girls in the U13 and U19 divisions, the Series is played across 18 tournaments hosted by leading courses.
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