Richie O’Donovan carded a five-under 66 in the third and final round of the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge at White River Golf and Country Club to climb into the top-10 on his first Sunshine Tour start of the 2023/24 campaign.
After rounds of 67 and 71, O’Donovan sat tied for 30th going into the final day, with a horror-start to his second round the primary reason he’d fallen out of overall contention.
The mistakes that led to him going four-over through three holes in round two were largely eradicated on the final day, and he’d make five birdies in his bogey-free closing effort.
Back-to-back birdies on the par-4 second and par-3 third put him in the driver’s seat, but he’d cover the rest of the front side in level-par to turn at -2. Birdies at 10, 13 and 17 saw him climb into a tie for eighth, marking a successful maiden outing having spent the last few months playing on the Irish PGA circuit at home.
And it could’ve been so much better for the Lucan native had he been able to take advantage of the par-5s, registering fives on each of the four longer holes, but nevertheless, it was a solid outing for O’Donovan who now returns to Europe where he’ll compete in DP World Tour Q-School in Belgium from September 5-8.
The event was won by South African Gerhard Pepler, who matched O’Donovan’s 66 to overhaul Kyle DeBeer whose hopes of a wire-to-wire win were dashed by a string of five bogeys in seven holes around the turn.
Pepler secured a two-stroke win over Sunshine and DP World Tour veteran Hennie Otto and felloe South African James Hart du Preez.