Doug McGuigan may have to rethink the order he placed for a new putter after he fired a final round six-under-par 66 on Saturday to win the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at St Francis Links.
Even with a bogey and a double-bogey on his card, his 13-under-par total for the 54-hole event was enough to give him a two-stroke edge over Hennie du Plessis, with England’s Scott Campbell and Steve Surry sharing third with Neil Schietekat who finished at nine-under-par.
“I ordered a new putter this week and I never used it,” said McGuigan. “I used my old putter, an old Odyssey I’ve had for about 15 years. It just seemed to line up nicely and I was stroking the ball beautifully.”
In fact, two eagles, rather than putts, were the shots that catapulted him to the win, his second in the season after he won the Vodacom Origins of Golf opener at Highland Gate at the end of July.
He made the first from the fairway on the first hole, and then, after he had dropped three shots on the seventh and eighth, he made his second on the 13th after two birdies on succession on the preceding two holes.
“It started off very nicely for me when I eagled the first, and made two birdies in a row after that,” he said. “I gave it all back on seven and eight, and then on the next 10 holes, I played unbelievable golf. I was very fortunate.
“After those drops, I thought back to the seven I made in the final round at Highland Gate. I thought that I’d got it back from there, and I could try and do the same thing here.”
Although the weather started off in the final round with some drizzle, heavy rain held off, and the wind which makes St Francis Links such a good test began to come up. And after his eagle on 13, he needed to consolidate the lead he had grasped.
The opportunity came on the par-five 16th. “That was one of the hardest par-fives I’ve ever played,” said McGuigan. “Today, I hit driver, four-wood and three-iron and made birdie, which wasn’t on the cards off the tee. It was one of the best three-irons I’ve ever hit.”
He had the luxury of playing his approach to the 18th green conservatively and using a putter from well off the green to advance the ball to within eight feet, knowing he could still drop a shot and win. “That final putt didn’t feel great, despite the fact that I know I had two putts for the win,” he said. “But the first putt went in and that’s good.”
It was his eighth Sunshine Tour title in a career that has spanned nearly 25 years, but it was the first time he has won two titles in a single season. ““That it was my second win of the season was very unexpected,” said McGuigan. “It’s a big confidence boost ahead of the summer season, but now it’s back to the practice range next week and get working again.”