Thriston Lawrence may be enjoying the “holiday vibe” back home, but he will be going all out to defend his South African Open title this weekend.
The 26-year-old from Mbombela claimed his first SA Open crown last year at the same Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate course where the event will start on Thursday morning.
Lawrence produced rounds of 64, 67, 67 and 74 to finish on 16 under par and edge Frenchman Clement Sordet by one stroke.
He nearly claimed a ninth professional victory last week at the Joburg Open, held at Houghton Golf Club, but had to settle for a tie for seventh spot on 10 under after a final-round 75, with Dean Burmester shooting a 64 to end on 18 under and secure a three-shot triumph.
“It’s still a top-10 (finish), coming off a top five the week prior. I had a good opportunity to win it, but I know golf – you can be 10 shots behind and win a golf tournament,” Lawrence told the DP World Tour website yesterday.
“I was three ahead and I lost it. So, I wouldn’t really say I lost it. Yes, I gave the guys a good chance to make up shots, but Dean played well and shot six under par – but lots of positives.
“I stayed patient, and I think I handled it very well under the circumstances. It wasn’t the best day, but there were a lot of bad breaks I got in that (last) round – shots that I hit that was really good, and the next moment I’m in a bush and have to go back to the tee ... or went off someone’s foot into the trees, and I have to make a double.
“So, it’s one of those days that wasn’t meant to be, but that’s in the past and I am refocused for this week, and I can’t wait to defend.”
But Lawrence has put that disappointment behind him, and can’t wait to get cracking at the Sunshine Tour-DP World Tour co-sanctioned event at Blair Atholl on Thursday.
“Nice memories from this golf course, and it doesn’t happen often where you come back and defend. So, it’s always nice to get the opportunity, and feeling excited,” he said.
“It’s been amazing (being the SA Open champion). I would say that’s probably the only tournament you would want to – if you could choose one tournament to win in South Africa, it’s probably the SA Open.
“It’s your national open – such a prestigious trophy and event. You see all the names on that trophy, and it’s amazing to be part of that history.
“It’s looking fairly similar. I would say the fairways and surrounds are maybe a bit softer, but everything looks pretty normal.
“It’s an awesome golf course ... very strong golf course, and you need to be really on your game from tee to green. It’s going to be a good week.
“On the par-fives you can lay up with three-woods and five-woods, so you need a lot of patience.
“It’s always score-able ... There are always some low scores around here, but (it requires) a lot of patience, a lot of hydration around here – you need to really play well.
“There are no gimmes around this golf course. It is fairly open, but you need to hit really good golf shots to score and make birdies. So, it is going to be (an) interesting week.”