The Season of Majors began with the 2019 Players Championship hosted at one of the Top 25 rated Golf Courses in the World, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East course.
Qualifying for the Players Championship began back in November 2018 where the Tour Players competed in 3 Thursday and 3 Sunday League events to collect as many Individual Stableford points as possible to finish in the Top 14 of their respective Leagues.
2019 will be the last occasion where the Players Championship will take place at the beginning of the Season as the Events Calendar will shift forward. The 2020 Season will see the qualifying cycles change: January to March for the Players Championship, April to June for The Masters, July to September for the Duckhook Open and October to December where the Summer Cup will be the Final Major and Event to Close off the Season.
The Top 28 Players field assembled for the 6th edition of the Tournament, a field which included already exempt 2018 Player of the Season Champion, Danie Geldenhuys, 2018 Sunday League and 2018 Summer Cup Champion, Richard Stewart and 2018 Thursday League Winner, Karl Jaacks. Three Thursday and Sunday League winners join the automatic entry list, while the remaining spots were allocated to the top points earners where Five debutants made the cut to tee it up in their first Major.
With the excitement to get underway the players gathered on the 1st Tee box to support each other as the fourballs went off one at a time to face the added challenge in Majors of the Medal format, with the ball having to go in to the hole, that gives opportunity for high numbers especially on the 6940 Meters, Par 72 Championship layout.
The scoring steadily started to climb into the Red numbers as all the players were on the course, with a host of players under par at some stage. Reaching the halfway stage 3 players held onto the co-lead on -3. Danie Geldenhuys playing off his 2 handicap, putting together yet another display of high quality golf with a front nine effort of 3 Birdies and 5 Pars to shoot 35 on the front nine! His Birdies coming on the Par 4- 3rd, Par 5- 6th and Par 5- 8th.
Cornell Erasmus also found himself on -3 after negotiating his front nine, playing off his 10 handicap. A Par on the long Par 3 11th getting his round into the Red numbers to -1. A Birdie on the Stroke 2, Par 4 – 4th would then take him to -2 after giving back a stroke on the Par 4 – 3rd. A Par on the Par 4 – 7th earned him another stroke carding a 2 over 39!
Mazz Lacueva (17) making his 18th Major start managed to claw his way back from +1 after 6 holes starting with a Birdie on the short Par 4 – 7th, with a long downhill Birdie putt from the back of the green to earn 2 shots on the field and jump from +1 to -1. On the next Par 5 – 8th, Mazz found himself on the fringe of the putting surface and the ball would find the hole for another Par and 3 points to gain another shot to -2. Another Par on the Par 4 – 9th after a 7 Iron found the green and he was within a 2 Putt range, -3 at the halfway stage.
Mazz moved onto the back nine focussing on continuing to approach his game as he had in the previous 3 holes, staying in the moment and playing each shot as they came. Starting immediately with his 3rd Par in a row on the Par 4 – 10th after finding the fairway bunker and green side bunker to move to -4. The Par 3 – 12th was his 4th Par in 5 holes to see him move to -5.
With the weather starting to threaten an early close to the Tournament, the players continued to get through as many holes as possible before the Siren halted play.
The Par 4 – 13th would be a swing point in the Tournament with Danie Geldenhuys finding bunker trouble, making a Double Bogey to relinquish two shots and drop from -4 to -2 giving Mazz breathing room at the top of the Live Scoring Leaderboard.
Mazz would find the bunker on the Par 4 – 13th as well after the ball came to a stop on the fringe of the green, but there would be time for one more long putt to sneak in to the hole to card his 6th Par of the round to move to -6 with Lightning calling time on the 1st Major of the Season.
Congratulations to Mazz Lacueva for claiming his first Major Title on -6, a streak of 7 holes gaining 7 shots!
Mazz earns himself an automatic exemption to the next four Majors to defend his Title in 2020 and also earns 850 Player Ranking Points to move to the Top of the 2019 CtheWorld Player of the Season Rankings.
*Player’s scores were completed by allocating 2 points for the remaining unfinished holes for Handicap calculations*