Lawrence rips through final round to claim vital victory

A final round of 65 that saw him hold off seven-time IGT Challenge Tour winner Coert Groenewald and a charging David Ashley from England, also landed the top-ranked former amateur prodigy a maiden title on the country’s premier golf development circuit.

Lawrence’s 16-under-par total proved insurmountable for the chasing pack, and the timing could not be more fortunate for the 24-year-old from Mbombela.

“I’ll be heading to the first stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School next week with a lot more confidence now,” Lawrence said.

“It’s been two years since I won on the Mena Tour, and I really hoped that I would win at least one of the four Race to Q-School tournaments I played before Qualifying School. To win the last one is just awesome. I got the job done, and I played really well this week.”

Lawrence missed the first four Race to Q-School events of the season to undergo laser eye surgery, and he was extremely pleased with the result.

“I had surgery done on my eyes so I could stop wearing glasses, and the difference is incredible. I really felt the benefits when we played in pouring rain at Randpark last week. I feel a lot more confident over the putter and it has impacted positively on my overall game.”

Starting the final round three shots behind Jonathan Waschefort, Lawrence got off to the ideal start with three birdies in his first four holes.

He three-putted the par-four 14th, but erased the bogey up with a brace of birdies at 15 and 16 to reach the turn in 32 strokes. He was one stroke clear of Waschefort starting his back nine, and he pushed his advantage to two shots with a birdie at the opening par five.

Also read: Lawrence follows Els and Locke to victory at Royal Lytham

“I followed a run of three birdies at three, four and five with a bogey at eight, but I was well clear by then and just had to wait it out in the clubhouse,” Lawrence said.

Groenewald carded a 69 to finish in second at 13-under and Ashley mixed seven birdies with a lone bogey for a 66 and third place on 12-under.

“I played really well for a 65 in the first round, but the second round was a bit of a scramble. My putter was hot throughout, and that always gives you an extra bit of confidence. My ball striking was a lot better today, especially the longer irons, and I hit 14 greens in regulation. To win going into Qualifying School against some very experienced players is fantastic.”

Lawrence is on two under par after the second round of the first stage qualifier at Killarney.

Results (first five)
1. Thriston Lawrence 65 70 65
2. Coert Groenewald 65 69 69
3. David Ashley (ENG) 70 68 66
4. Johan Van Der Wath 69 68 69, Gregg Blainey (ENG) 70 66 70, Juan Swart 66 69 71
5. Chris Cannon (ENG) 71 66 70.

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