An emotional Thriston Lawrence described his Joburg Open victory at Randpark on Saturday as “life-changing” with his boyhood dream of winning on the world stage coming true.
The R17,5-million tournament, the opening stop on the newly-formed DB World Tour – a rebrand of the old European Tour – was reduced to just 36 holes when a thunderstorm and then a water-logged Firethorn course halted play on Saturday after the leading group of Lawrence, fellow South African Zander Lombard and England’s Ashley Chesters – had completed just two holes of the third and final round (Sunday’s fourth round was also called off to allow European-based players an extra day to catch flights back home and avoid a Covid-enforced stay in South Africa).
Big-hitting Lawrence’s 36-hole Friday aggregate of 12-under-par 130 – made up of a pair of 65s – therefore stands up as the winning score, with Lombard taking second place on 134 and England’s Ashley Chesters and South Africa’s Shaun Norris sharing third place on seven-under 135.
The top three here, not otherwise exempt, gain coveted spots in next year’s 150th edition of the Open Championship at St Andrews so Lawrence, Lombard and Chesters get the nod. Norris was already in the line-up for the Home of Golf before the Joburg Open started.
“This win is life-changing for me because I now have for the first time full playing privileges for the DP World Tour,” said Lawrence. “So instead of playing just at home in 2022, I can tee it up in the big-money events across the world. It’s a big step up for me on the world stage, and to get into The Open is massive because I’ve never played in a Major before, never mind one at St Andrews. It would have been ideal for me to win this tournament on the 18th green today with a completed third round but the weather had the final say and it’s tough on the other guys who didn’t get a chance to give chase. As an aside, I love this Randpark course and have fond memories of it in my amateur days and when I won Q-School here after turning pro.”
Lawrence will look back on the three eagles he made in the first two rounds as key to his victory.
“Six under par for just three holes where I had those eagles certainly helped the cause,” said the tough, burly Thriston who in round two eagled the 500-metre par-5 14th with a drive and a massive nine-iron from 188 metres out which finished just three paces from the pin. In went the cup for a three on a hole he had also eagled on day one with a drive, an eight-iron and a 20-foot putt. Lawrence’s third eagle of the week also came on Thursday, where he nearly drove the green at the 366m par-4 sixth hole before finding the cup with a long chip for a handsome two.
Lawrence’s only two wins as a professional prior to the Joburg Open was on the minor Big Easy Tour in South Africa in 2018 and the 2019 Vodacom Origins event at Stellenbosch Golf Club in 2019. To now win on the DP World Tour means his world ranking of 503 is a thing of the distant past.
He picks up close to R3-million for the win.
Spain’s Angel Hidalgo and France’s Frederic Lacroix tied for fifth Saturday on 136.
Written by Randpark member Grant Winter