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Ken Borland


Lawrence not yet an expert at finishing, but temperament & skill enough to carry him to victory

Posted on April 06, 2023 by Ken

At just 26 years of age, Thriston Lawrence is not yet an expert at finishing off wins, but his temperament and skill were still enough to carry him to an exciting one-stroke victory in the South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate on Sunday.

Lawrence was leading by five shots with seven holes to play, but he let Frenchman Clement Sordet back into the contest with a horror run that saw him drop five shots between the 12th and 16th holes, including a double-bogey on the par-four 15th, when he hit his second into the river.

Sordet had now drawn level, having birdied the par-four 14th after a great approach shot to 12 feet. But the Challenge Tour graduate then blinked as he missed a six-foot putt for par on the penultimate hole, and then his drive on the par-five 18th went into the fairway bunker, meaning he had to lay up and couldn’t really put pressure on Lawrence.

The South African, who collected four birdies between the fourth and 10th holes, could afford to miss a three-foot birdie putt and still win by one.

“In a one-on-one like that, you need to make pars and not make mistakes, even when I was five ahead,” Lawrence said after his third DP World Tour win, all of them coming this year.

“Inside I’m not always calm, but it comes with experience, having been in that situation, and once you have won, it all adds up in terms of experience. It’s a big mental thing and I try to think of the present.

“So it was nice to see I managed to stay in the moment, even though I was nervous. I had been five ahead and I didn’t want to disappoint friends, family and sponsors. There was quite a lot of emotion walking up 18, it was a weird but good feeling.

“It’s never easy to win, it’s the toughest thing, but you teach yourself with experience. It felt easy in the middle of the round, but then golf happened and it was not the prettiest finish. But I just tried to stick to my game,” Lawrence said.

Starting the final round two strokes ahead of Sordet, Lawrence did not have the start he would have wanted as he bogeyed the first hole and Sordet pulled level with a birdie.

But an even bigger swing happened on the par-four fourth as Lawrence curled a superb approach shot to eight feet from the pin and made the birdie, while the 30-year-old Sordet found the fairway bunker and then hit his second out of bounds, leading to a double-bogey.

Suddenly Lawrence was three ahead and he extended that lead to five with another birdie on the fifth and back-to-back gains on nine and 10.

Pretoria Country Club’s Christian Maas claimed the Freddie Tait Cup for leading amateur as he finished on five-under-par. All five members of the GolfRSA squad who received invitations to the tournament made the cut, the first time this has happened in at least 30 years and exactly what the backers of the amateur programme would have wanted.

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