Thriston Lawrence was still shaking with excitement and the release of nervous tension half-an-hour after being told he was the winner of the weather-disrupted Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club on Saturday, giving the 24-year-old South African a life-changing first international title.
Saturday was meant to be the final round of the co-sanctioned tournament with the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour), after the organisers decided to cut the event to 54 holes due to the terrible weather and the turmoil caused by travel restrictions overseas due to the announcement of a new Covid variant discovered in South Africa.
But the thundershowers returned just after midday and did not let-up in time to avoid the tournament being called off at 3pm. With the second round first needing to be completed on Saturday morning, none of the 69 golfers who made the cut were able to complete their third round.
The final placings were therefore decided based on the completed second-round scores and Lawrence, who had bogeyed the first hole and parred the second just before play stopped, was declared the winner by virtue of his four-shot lead over Zander Lombard after back-to-back 65s.
“I’m still shaking and it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Lawrence said after receiving the crystal trophy. “It’s always been a goal of mine to win on the European Tour, but I didn’t see it coming so quickly and you never think it would come out like this.
“But the whole week has been strange and my mentality was just to finish the tournament. It wasn’t nice waiting today because you hear a lot of talk about what might or might not happen.
“But I’m just thankful for the way it turned out. It’s a life-changing moment and a lot of things are going to change in my schedule. It’s an unbelievable feeling. Being me a week ago to now is two worlds apart.
“You want to see yourself up there winning tournaments, but there have been a lot of knocks in the last year-and-a-half and it’s been tough,” Lawrence said.
The winner of one previous Sunshine Tour event – the 2019 Vodacom Origins Stellenbosch – was a trifle disappointed to not have his winning moment on the 18th green, but even that did not stop his perpetual smile.
“I would have liked to get the win on the 18th, have a winning putt, so it was not the perfect way to finish,” Lawrence said.
“But I played unbelievable golf over the last two days to take a four-shot lead into the weekend.
“Then the tournament was cut short amid a lot of confusion. The weather prediction was actually fine for today with a zero percent chance of lightning. But that only lasted 45 minutes.
“But I just stayed patient and I will take a lot of confidence from this win. And I don’t have to worry about invites anymore,” the Nelspruit golfer said.