13th September 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Bulls and Lions inspire victorious Visser
(PHOTO – Leon Visser and his ‘caddy’ Blue Bulls utility back Ulrich Beyers; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 13 September 2017 – Ermelo amateur Leon Visser saluted the Bulls and the Lions after he emerged from an enthralling final day battle in the Services Challenge with his first IGT Challenge Tour title on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Mpumalanga golfer trailed Teboho Sefatsa by two shots heading into the final round at Services Golf Club, but he was in the mix around the turn. A hard-fought two-under-par 70 ensured the desired result – a one-shot maiden victory on 10 under 206.
“I made all the shots, but the credit goes to Ulrich (Beyers) and Jannie Putter,” said Visser.
“Ulrich and I go back to a long way. Since I started playing on the IGT Challenge Tour, he has been my biggest supporter and this week he took some time out to be my bag-man. He did great job keeping me positive and I couldn’t be happier to share my first win with my best mate.”
Visser also spent some time with Lions mental mentor Putter last week.
“He gave me some great advice, but there was one thing he said that really stuck with me. We all tell ourselves that we think we can win, when we should be telling ourselves we know we can win. That completely changed my mind-set.”
Beyers reckoned it was Visser’s new mantra that got the job done.
“Right through the round Leon mumbled to himself before every shot,” said the Bulls utility back. “He was saying ‘My pa het nie bang kinders grootgemaak nie’ (My dad didn’t raise cowards). Every time he said it, you could see his face shift and he got this determined look. I think it’s that chant that got him to the finish line.”
Sefatsa bogeyed the opening hole, but Visser nearly holed out and drained a 45-footer for birdie at the second to draw level. He left his par-putt in the throat at the third, though, and also dropped the eighth when he failed to up-and-down from the bunker while Sefatsa birdied five and nine to regain the lead.
The momentum shifted around the turn.
“I hit my drive flush at the ninth, hit a six-iron to 10 feet and two-putted for birdie,” said Visser. “Tebs dropped 10 and I boxed a 15-footer to tie for the lead at 10 under. I bogeyed 11, but birdied 13. I had the lead for a hole when Tebs dropped 14, but then I dropped at 15.
“I had 155 metres to the pin. It was perfect gap-wedge distance for me and I thought it would pitch just short of the flag, but I flew the green. The adrenaline was obviously pumping. I just took the punishment, but I stayed positive.”
Visser edged ahead again when he holed a 45-footer to save par at 16 and Sefatsa dropped. It was also at this point that he realised Pieter Moolman and Kyle McClatchie had joined the fight.
“Pieter and Kyle were both seven under with two to play,” he said.
“I aimed my tee shot straight down the middle at 17 and had 50 metres left to the pin. Pitched it 15-feet from the pin and boxed the putt to go 10 under. At 18, I hit three-wood down the 18th fairway. I only had 115 metres in, so I wanted to hit a knock-down gap-wedge straight at the pin, but I duffed the shot.
“It’s winter, so the fairways are rock hard. The ball bounced and kicked and it finished just 10 centimetres from the yellow hazard line. Tebs hit his second in the water and I knew I caught a huge break. I chipped it to six feet and two-putted for the win. It was the best feeling ever to get that first win.”
Moolman finished birdie-birdie for a 66 and the runner-up spot on nine under.
McClatchie, South Africa’s top ranked amateur, blitzed the course in 65 strokes to bank a R500 cheque for the low round of the day and a share of third on eighth under with Sefatsa, who birdied 17 but bogeyed the last hole for a 74.