Despite Michael Hoey getting to within a stroke after 11 holes of round four, third round leader, Ross Fisher, who had begun the day five shots clear, won the Tshwane Open quite cosily in the end, by three strokes, but it was a different story stateside where Rory McIlroy threw away the Honda Classic.
Having led from flag-fall, the Northern Irishman was matched at below 1.330/100 as he looked likely to get the job done but a double-bogey six on the 16th, after he'd found water from a fairway bunker, stopped him in his tracks. After bogeying the 17th, he gave himself a chance for redemption when he hit a spectacular approach shot to 12 feet on the 18th but his eagle putt just missed and we were into a four-man playoff with two Russells, a Rory and a Ryan.
Russell Knox and Ryan Palmer, who had missed from inside five feet at the 72nd hole, were both unable to birdie the par 5 18th and Rory failed to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker, so Russell Henley, who was matched before the off at odds of at least 400.0399/1, was left to nudge in his two-foot putt for both birdie and title.
I was perhaps a little unlucky not to get more out of my sole selection in South Africa, Michael Hoey, who I backed at 120.0119/1. I layed enough back at 5.69/2 to make a nice profit but when he got to within one of Fisher I quite fancied his chances. My plan was to lay more back at 2.89/5 and 1.51/2 but 3.55/2 was the lowest he hit and when he found water with his approach shot on the 12th I knew I'd be extremely lucky to meet my target lays and I didn't.
Hoey is a fearless competitor in-contention but he was maybe too aggressive at the 12th. He went straight for the pin when there was plenty of room left of it and had he not made double-bogey there I fancy he'd have caught the often jittery Fisher.
It doesn't happen often but every now and again I do miss a final round for some reason or another and having watched Manchester City beat Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final, and having had one or two celebratory beers, I wasn't quite sober enough to trade and that looks like a shame.
There were all sorts of shenanigans at the end of the Honda and it looks as though there would have been all sorts of opportunities but it's no good crying over spilt milk, or even over drunk beers!
What have we leaned for next year?
When I wrote my preview for the inaugural Tshwane Open last year, I wrote "It's quite possible that I'm seeing something that isn't actually there but I have read one report describing the course as 'open and more links-style than parkland' and the images I've seen of the course create that impression too. So maybe look at those with a good record on links courses?"
I didn't include the links angle in this year's preview as I couldn't really see much in last year's result to substantiate it but it's a wholly different story after this renewal.
Ross Fisher once lost a playoff at the Dunhill Links Championship and in 2009 he led the Open Championship during the final round so he has to be considered a fine links exponent and his closest pursuers over the weekend, Hoey and Simon Dyson, are both former winners of the Dunhill Links Championship so links form is definitely something to look for next time.
Stats wise, greens in regulation appears the most important to consider. Inaugural winner, Dawie Van Der Walt hit more greens than anyone else twelve months ago and this year, at least three of the first four home ranked inside the top-seven for greens hit. There are no stats listed for Danie Van Tonder, who finished tied second with Hoey.
At the Honda Classic, although pre-event favourite, McIlroy, was in the van from the get-go, yet again it was someone matched at a big price before the off lifting the trophy. Outsiders have a great record since it's been switched to PGA National and so do Sony Open winners...
I'm slightly disappointed I didn't back the winner, either before the off, or in-running. He wasn't awful when I backed him last month at Pebble Beach and when I read that the ultra-shrewd Ben Coley had tipped him up in his column I perhaps should have followed him in before the off - especially as I'd highlighted the Sony Open link in my preview. Henley won the Sony last year and to strengthen the link even further, one of the four playoff protagonists, Ryan Palmer, won at Waialae in 2010. And the fact that Henley was always up with the pace was why I could have easily gotten him onside in-running...
He sat in second after round one, a stroke behind Rory, third at halfway and then back into second with a round to go, and that was pretty typical. The five previous winners were all within a stroke of the lead at halfway so you can't go scanning too far down the leaderboard here.
Will we see Tiger Woods at his beloved Blue Monster?
Rory McIlroy walked off the course with 'toothache' at the Honda twelve months ago and this year it was Tiger Woods' turn to pull out. After a very encouraging five-under par 65 in round three, the world number one looked to be tuning up nicely ahead of one of his most successful tournaments but having pulled out yesterday with back spasms, there has to be a doubt over his participation and the remodelled Doral.
Woods has won the Cadillac Championship an incredible seven times and if he does make the start on Thursday, even though the course has changed, details here, he'll be the man to beat.
I'll be back tomorrow with a preview for that event and also for the Puerto Rico Open, which also starts on Thursday.
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