Australia’s Robert Allenby kept his cool to win the Sun City Challenge on the third hole of a playoff at Gary Player Country Club on Sunday, pipping defending champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
ROBERT ALLENBY Picture © Getty Images
Both players finished 72 holes in 11-under-par 277, Allenby shooting 71 in the final round and Stenson catching him with a 69. The pair then played the 18th hole three times before Allenby coolly hit a six-iron to within five feet of the flag to set up an easy par.
Stenson hit his approach shot into the grandstand, from where he had a free drop but he could only pitch the ball 30 feet past the hole.
The world number seven had earlier three-putted the 18th hole in regulation play to make bogey. Allenby also bogeyed the last in regulation play after a poor chip from the fringe.
South African Tim Clark and England’s Ross Fisher finished on 10-under-par 278, while overnight leader Retief Goosen fired a 75 in the final round, the loss of strokes at the par-five 14th and at the 18th costing him his second title.
Stenson, who began the day four shots off the pace, went out in level-par 36, but seemed to have the title in his lap when he eagled the par-five 10th and birdied the par-four 13th to go to 11 under.
He hit his second shot on the par-five 14th hole well over the green and had to hack the ball from thick grass next to a cart-path, over dense bush and into a bunker short of the green on his way to a bogey.
He then birdied 15 and 17 before his bogey at 18 led to the playoff.
Allenby put together a blemish-free front nine, with a birdie at the par-three seventh but had three birdies and three bogeys on the back nine.
“It was a tough day scoring-wise, even though the conditions were no different to any other day,” Allenby said. “But I guess it’s the same as any final day. I was cruising along and then I blocked a couple of irons on the back nine.”
“When Henrik hit it right on the third playoff hole, I knew that if I wanted to win the tournament that was the time for a good shot. It was the perfect yardage for a nice high six-iron, I felt good and confident over the ball and it was pretty much perfect.”
Allenby said he was proud to become the first Australian to win the invitational 12-man tournament, which is in its 29th year. Australian major winners Greg Norman and Steve Elkington made a couple of appearances each at the tournament but did not win.
“I was pretty determined to be the first Australian to win here and to make that reality is pretty special and I had a lot of emotion tucked up inside,” Allenby said.