South African Daniel Van Tonder won the inaugural edition of the Kenya Savannah Classic European Tournament today after a tense three holes playoff defeating Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond at Karen Country Club.
The winner had to be decided in a playoff after both players carded an identical seven under par 64 in the final round for -21 gross score for the week. It took three playoff rounds on the tough-playing hole 18 to separate the two after they both scored par in the first two attempts. Van Tonder put the game to bed when, on the third attempt, he landed his approach shot less than a yard off the flagstick. And when Janewattananond missed his birdie putt, the South African had the simplest of tasks, stroking the ball in the hole with ease to claim his first win on the European Tour.
It was a dramatic day in which a less windy course scorched by high temperatures had five players tied at the top at one point.
Van Tonder had a solid game sinking his third birdie of the day on the on 7th hole to grab the leadership from compatriot Justin Harding. The 30 year old who has seven wins on the Sunshine Tour went on to register five back to back birdies from the ninth to the 13th hole. He overshot the 14th par 3 for his first bogey of the day then missed the green on approach on the 15th for another bogey to drop two shots behind the leader on -20. A priceless birdie on number 18 for a decent 64 on the day earned him a playoff date with Janewattananond who was playing in the group behind.
It was a heartbreak for the 25 year old Thai who had the first taste of the lead when he birdied the 9th to go -19 for a tie of the lead. Two back to back birdies on the 10th and 11th saw Janewattanond keep Van Toner company before he missed a routine birdie putt at the 12th to drop one shot behind the leaders. A birdie on the 13th gave him a solo lead but he went on to drop a shot on the par 3 16th after missing a five footer to go to -21. The Thai pro missed a glorious chance to clinch it when he missed a birdie putt on the 18th to take the game to playoff.
Scott Calum Hill stayed in contention up to the final hole only to drop a shot on the 18th hole. Needing a birdie on the final hole to match the leaders, Hill failed to hit the green with his shot second and proceeded to three putt, to register his first bogey of the day and finish T3. Hill had enjoyed co-leadership with Van Tonder when he sank his fifth birdie in a row on the 10th hole to go -19. Two birdies on the 12th and 13th holes moved Hill into contention on -21 before he slipped on the final hole.
Englishman Sam Horsfield finished tied third after a decent final round run yielded an eagle, six birdies and a bogey on the 18th hole for -20 gross. A shanked second shot on the 18th after failing to find the fairway off the tee cruelly brought Horsfield’s challenge to a screeching halt as he went on to reach the green on three and two putted for bogey.
Round three leader Justin Harding, enjoying a three shot lead lost momentum on the back nine to shoot two over par 73 and settle for T14 position. Harding started cautiously with four straight pars but dropped a shot on the 5th after driving deep into the rough for a penalty drop to bogey and go -16 for a five-way tie at the top. He then missed the fairway again on the par 5 sixth, found the left side bunker with the second shot and chipped close for birdie on the easiest par 5 hole to go -17 for share of lead. A brilliant tee shot on the 7th for a tap in birdie for -18 saw him regain joint leadership. He then missed the green on the 9th for the first time, punched back then three putted to drop to -16 two shots behind leaders. A birdie on the 10th briefly revived his hopes of a back to back victory on the Tour but failed to birdie the short par 5 11th and 12th to begin losing ground on the leaders. Signs of fatigue for the man who has been in contention for seven rounds in a row since last week began to show when he bogeyed the 13th and 14th to surrender the fight.
Kenya’s lone ranger David Wakhu finished in style with an impressive final round of two under par 69 for -7 gross to finish in T57 position. A near flawless round that saw him drop only one shot on the par 4 second hole was completed with three birdies to earn the Golf Park player a deserved place in the European Tour history books.
“I am very happy with what I have achieved this week. I had a really good time, scored well and did the country proud. Of course I would have loved to win but I was definitely up against better and experienced players so I am happy with the scores I returned,” said Wakhu.
DAY 4 LEADERBOARD
Van Tonder -21
Van Driel -16