CARLETON, S. Africa (March 24, 2014) -- James du Preez celebrated a lengthy return to form from injury with his first senior provincial title at the North West Open Championship on Sunday.
The Pretoria golfer tied Gerlou Roux from the Western Province in regulation play on 14-under-par 274, and clinched the title in a sudden death play-off at Rustenburg Golf Club.
Roux took the control of the championship in the second round, and took a four shot lead into the final round after a 68 in the third.
Meanwhile Du Preez carded rounds of 71 and 69, but vaulted to a share of second with Matthew Spacey and reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence after firing a six-under-par 66 in round three.
The 18-year-old TuksGolf player reeled in Roux with a 68 in the final round after the former pro closed with an even-par 72.
Du Preez split the fairway at the par-four first in the play-off, while Roux hit his tee shot right.
“Gerlou caught a bad lie in the rough and he punched out, and into the bunker that guards the green,” Du Preez explained.
“I had a 100 meters to the pin, and hit a sand-wedge 20 feet past the flag. Gerlou failed to up and down, so I just lagged it to a foot for a tap-in par.”
Du Preez was part of the victorious South African side that claimed the country’s 15th consecutive victory in the All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge in Mauritius in April last year, but just three months later, his career was dealt a second blow when the teenager was delegated to the side lines with a wrist injury.
“I had an operation in August, and that meant another five months out of the game,” said Du Preez.
The lanky golfer, who stands well over two meters tall in his socks, was also side-lined with back problems in 2011 after some major growth spurts.
“Luckily I was in matric last year and just channelled my energy into my studies to get a good pass. I’m off to the Texas Christian University this August, so I am absolutely over the moon with this victory.
“It’s been a very long time since I held a trophy and I am really thankful to my coach, Llewellyn van Leeuwen, and the team at HPC, who have worked really hard to get me back to form.”
Lawrence from Mpumalanga carded a 69 in the final round to finish one off the pace in third on 275, while Keegan de Lange (68) and Bryce McCabe (67) shared fourth on 277.