Hoey ties 14th as Nienaber wins Di-Data for South Africa

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Michael Hoey (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

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Michael Hoey signed off on a nice week with a one-under par 71 as Wilco Nienaber secured an emotional first professional win by overcoming Henric Sturehed on the third play-off hole at the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

Five-time European Tour winner Hoey carded four birdies and three bogeys in his third under-par round of the week as he finished in a tie for 14th, banking €4,688 for his 11-under par tally.

Nienaber and Sturehed, meanwhile, were tied at the top on 19 under par after 72 holes at Fancourt Golf Estate, but Nienaber triumphed on the third extra trip to the Montagu course’s 18th hole as Sturehed was unable to match the South African’s third successive par.

Nienaber posted a closing seven-under par round of 65, which included a birdie on the last hole to draw level with Sturehed, and his victory completes a clean sweep for local players in the European Challenge Tour’s South African Swing – which has been co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour – following wins for Brandon Stone in the Limpopo Championship and JC Ritchie at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open.

The 21-year-old was overwhelmed with emotion after his victory which, in addition to collecting valuable Road to Mallorca Rankings points, earns him an exemption into the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational later this year.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I definitely forgot how it felt to win. I’m a little bit emotional but I just know it’s the hard work I put in. It’s a special week. I wanted to win this event and I’ve done so. It was a little tougher than I wanted it to be but I pulled it through in the end.

“I had a target to get to minus 20 and I did mess it up on nine. I felt like I gave it away on nine. I was in a good spot and I don’t know what I tried but I messed it up and ended up in the water and made six. That was basically two shots lost. I knew I wanted to make six [birdies] on the back nine and I made five, so six would have been enough and it would have been a lot less stress.

“I like to play attacking golf and I needed to win it. He played so well, I played with him yesterday as well and he was just holing everything he sees.”

Sweden’s Sturehed posted a bogey-free six under par round of 66 to secure a spot in the play-off and ultimately second place, three strokes clear of South Africa’s Oliver Bekker and USA’s Chase Hanna who finished in a tie for third on 16-under par.

Daan Huizing, of the Netherlands, Swede Anton Karlsson and Switzerland’s Benjamin Rusch finished in a tie for fifth place on 15 under par, one stroke clear of Scotland’s Craig Howie and Denmark’s Niklas Nørgaard Møller who came tied eighth.

With his win, Nienaber leaps to the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings on 56,623 points, while Sturehed’s second place is enough for him to move 76 spots into second on the Rankings, with Bekker and Hanna occupying positions three and four.

The Road to Mallorca now travels to Sweden for the Range Servant Challenge by Hinton Golf from May 13-16, the first of back-to-back events on Swedish soil.

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