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Lawrence recovers to win South African Open a day after birthday

Lawrence triumphed for the third time on the circuit by finishing one stroke ahead of Clement Sordet, who finished with a 73 as he chased a maiden title.

Thriston Lawrence wins South African Open on 04 December 2022. Picture: Twitter/@InvestecSAOpen

JOHANNESBURG – Thriston Lawrence surrendered a five-shot lead with five holes remaining before winning the South African Open by one stroke on Sunday, a day after celebrating his 26th birthday.

He carded a final round 74 at the Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate, 52 kilometres (32 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, for a total of 273 in the DP World Tour (European Tour) event.

Lawrence triumphed for the third time on the circuit by finishing one stroke ahead of Clement Sordet, who finished with a 73 as he chased a maiden title.

A thrilling finale was settled at the penultimate hole, a par three, on a course designed by South African golf legend Gary Player.

Lawrence parred despite failing to find the green off the tee while Sordet dropped a shot after missing a short putt.

Both contenders parred the par-five final hole, allowing Lawrence to add the South African Open title to previous triumphs in the Joburg Open last year and European Masters this year.

“I felt really good with a five-shot lead as I approached the final holes,” a relieved Lawrence told AFP.

“Then, I became too conservative, made some mistakes and dropped four strokes within three holes from 14.

“My momentum slipped, but that is golf, and when Clement bogeyed 17 I was back in front. I held my nerve on the final hole and it was wonderful that so many family members are here.

“A special thanks to my dad, who advised me to stand a little further away from the ball when putting this week. I heeded him. Being familiar with this course also helped.”

Swede Jans Fahrbring (70) came third, two shots behind Lawrence, and German Matti Schmid (69) fourth.

The European Tour moves to northeastern South Africa next for the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club from Thursday.

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