Four winners, three holes-in-one, two events, the first G4D Tour event of the season, one amazing week. Here is everything you need to know from the ISPS HANDA Australian Open and Investec South African Open Championship.
Meronk powers to victory Down Under
Adrian Meronk stormed to a second DP World Tour title as he eagled the last in a stunning five-shot victory at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in Melbourne. The Pole entered the day at Victoria Golf Club a shot behind former World Number One Adam Scott but after a two-shot swing on the first he never looked back, signing for a 66 to finish at 14 under. Scott carded a 72 in front of adoring home crowds to finish a shot ahead of another Australian in Min Woo Lee, who recorded a closing 69. “I’m super excited and to finish like that on the 18th hole is just unreal," said Meronk, who was four over after 16 holes on day one. “I’m so grateful, thank you for all the support and I enjoyed this week so much."
Lawrence wins third title in thrilling finish
Thriston Lawrence held off Clément Sordet to win the Investec South African Open Championship despite a nerve-wracking finish. Lawrence had a five-shot lead early on the back nine at Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate but was reeled in by his playing partner before getting over the line by one stroke at 16 under par. 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.” The reigning Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the year now has three wins in just over 12 months after his victories at last season's Joburg Open and Omega European Masters.
Kipp Popert wins fifth G4D Tour title in Australia
Kipp Popert brought his dominance from 2022 into the 2023 G4D Tour season as he claimed a thumping seven-shot win at the Australian All Abilities Championship @ the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. The new campaign got under way at Victoria Golf Club and it looked like we might have a maiden winner as Kurtis Barkley entered the final day with a three-shot lead in search of his first title. Popert had other ideas though, and the World Number One carded a 69 to finish the week at two under and win a fifth G4D Tour trophy after four victories in the inaugural season. “My approach was that we have a system and I just followed it to a tee," said Popert. "I was hitting it really well so just wanted to see how low I could go. To be the champion here is an absolute honour. I had three Tim Tams yesterday so there must be something in those.”
Buhai survives scare to win women's event
The men's and women's ISPS HANDA Australian Opens were being played concurrently this week, with the two fields playing over the same courses for an equal 1.7 million Australian dollar prize fund. In the women's event, South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai had opened up a three-shot lead at the turn but dropped shots on the tenth, 14th and 16th to be reeled in before birdieing the 17th for a one-shot win at 12 under. Buhai, who earlier this year won the AIG Women's Open, had husband Dave on the bag this week and is now looking forward to getting her trophies home. "I obviously haven’t been able to go back to South Africa, so very much looking forward to that," she said. "My home club, Royal Johannesburg & Kensington are having an evening on 15 December to celebrate and I think then it will only really hit me what I’ve been able to achieve and now to be able to add this one too, I think it’s going to be a double celebration."
Hat-trick of aces in Johannesburg
We had to wait for the fourth event of the season to get our first hole-in-one but, once we had one, they just kept coming. On the opening morning in South Africa, Hennie du Plessis made the first with a seven iron from 221 yards on the third.
And in the the afternoon, Tom McKibbin joined the party, holing a five iron from 232 yards on the 11th.
But we were not done there, as European Challenge Tour Number One Nathan Kimsey aced the 17th with a seven iron from 186 yards on Saturday morning.
Trio earn Open places
Haydn Barron produced a big finish at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open to book his ticket to The 151st Open Championship alongside Alejandro Cañizares and Min Woo Lee. The three leading players in Melbourne not already exempt earned their places at Royal Liverpool, with Lee finishing in third at eight under after a 69. Cañizares made a charge up the leaderboard with a closing 64 that got him to seven under but Barron was three shots shy of that mark stood on the 17th tee. He picked up a birdie on the penultimate hole but the best was yet to come as he rolled home a huge eagle putt on the last, sparking big celebrations from the local fans and sealing Barron an Open debut. "I'm absolutely stoked," he said. "It’s always been the one I’ve said to everyone that I’d want to win if I had the option."