Eagles galore for the Irish as Lawrence holds on to win after back nine blunders

Ronan MacNamara

Gary Hurley (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Tom McKibbin and Gary Hurley both carded eagles in their final rounds as Thristan Lawrence survived a back nine collapse to take the Investec South African Open and notch his third DP World Tour title.

McKibbin eagled the fifth hole on his way to a three-under 69 for an eight-under total and a share of 15th place as he continued his bright start to life as a DP World Tour rookie.

The Holywood teenager rounded off his week with two closing birdies to maintain his good record in South Africa after a top-20 last week in the Joburg Open.


The 19-year-old had already made headlines on Thursday afternoon after claiming a hole in one on the par-3 11th after a five iron from 233 yards found the bottom of the cup.

Hurley came within inches of a hole in one and a brand new Jaguar on the par-3 17th on Saturday but there were no such prizes on offer for McKibbin on Thursday although he was awarded the freedom of Montecasino for two years which includes free accommodation and bed and breakfast for him and a partner.

“It’s pretty cool to be honest. It’s very nice to get something after my hole in one on Thursday,” smiled McKibbin who bought members of the media beer afterwards. 

“There was no prize on the tee but this is certainly a great thing to finish the week off with so yeah it’s pretty special and I appreciate it a lot.” 

West Waterford man Hurley was also embarking on his rookie season in Europe’s top-tier having secured his playing privileges at Q-School last month.

The 29-year-old looked comfortable on his season debut finishing in a respectable 35th place despite a one-over 73 on Sunday.

Remarkably Hurley completed a hat trick of eagles on the par-5 18th, carding threes in successive rounds which helped him to a five-under total.

While the Irish were dazzling the crowd in spurts there was high drama at the summit as local favourite Lawrence stumbled across the finish line and claimed his third DP World Tour win in twelve months.

The South African teed off with a two shot lead from Frenchman Clement Sordet and had stretched his advantage to five strokes courtesy of birdies on 4, 5, 9 and 10.

However, he was reeled in by Sordet who birdied the 14th while Lawrence began to collapse, dropping five shots in as many holes with a bogeys on 12, 14 and 16 and a double on the par-4 15th.

That made it honours even heading towards the finish but in a back nine that became a comedy of errors, Sordet dropped a shot on 17 meaning two pars were enough for Lawrence to take his second win on home soil and ascend to the summit of the Race to Dubai.

The 26-year-old carded a back nine of 41 and was overcome with relief.

At the presentation ceremony – after dropping the trophy off its base and catching it one-handed – Lawrence said: “This is what you strive for, being a kid you dream for this moment, to win such a prestigious event in front of an amazing crowd.”

“It felt all easy going through the round and then golf happened at the end.

“Clement was playing really well, I was playing well then made a few mistakes, missed them on the wrong sides and couldn’t score from there.

“I managed to get it done and I’m really pleased.”

On the mishap at the 15th hole, he added: “Me and my caddie got the wind wrong but the mistake’s on me, I still need to hit the golf shot – I took a conservative line and I shouldn’t have, I’ve been aggressive all week.

“It was unfortunate for Clement on 17 to miss that short one – it’s just golf.

“I want to cry, I’ve got no words.”

Scoring HERE


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