PLETTENBERG BAY GOLF NEWS - Golfing legend Mark McNulty recently became the first golfer to successfully defend his SA Senior Open title during the Sunshine Senior Tour last week.
Hosted by Bitou Municipality, the event took place in Plettenberg Bay from 2 to 5 October.
McNulty succeeded in fending off the chasing duo of Roger Wessels and Kevin Stone at the Plettenberg Bay Country Club by the time he signed off his final scorecard for a 71 to finish one shot ahead of his closest competitor.
A field of 60 senior professional golfers played 72 holes of stroke play on what has been described “one of South Africa’s most underrated courses”.
McNulty showed his love for the Plettenberg Bay course as he strolled through a bogey-free first 36 holes to sit firmly in the lead after the second round. A shaky third round gave the chasing pack some hope, with Wessels and Stone making the most of McNulty's wobble.
Wessels and McNulty both birdied the first hole but after they both "parred" at the second, Wessels birdied the third and McNulty hit a bogey on hole four.
After another bogey on five, Wessels took the lead for the first time in the tournament. But it was short-lived as McNulty birdied the par three sixth to once again share the lead.
McNulty finished the front nine with a birdie to claim back the lead and a bogey from Wessels on 11 restored the two-shot lead he had started the day with.
While Wessels had been pushing McNulty for the first part of the day, it was Stone’s consistency that was keeping him close. Stone did briefly slip on 12 and 13, but birdied 14 to move back to one-over. McNulty also bogeyed 13 and sat just one ahead of Wessels going up the 14th. Back-to-back bogeys for Wessels meant he slipped to two-over, one behind Stone and three behind McNulty.
The final three holes produced some exciting golf as Wessels pulled one back on 17 to go up the 18th on one-over, while Stone had dropped one to start the final hole at two-over.
… But only one winner
All three players were in the middle of the fairway off the tee. Wessels and McNulty were following each other on their second shots coming up short right, while Stone pulled his second but “missed well” and was pin high left of the green. With McNulty putting his third onto the green, meant the title was all but secure until Stone chipped in for an eagle to finish even par and meaning McNulty had two to secure the win.
He duly obliged and knocked in his second putt for a par 5 and sign for one-under for the tournament and his second consecutive SA Senior Open.
The event is for professional SA golfers of 50 years or older and aims to provide a competitive tournament schedule to grow senior professional golf in South Africa.
Next year the likes of Ernie Els and Retief Goosen turn 50 and are expected to be favourites during the 2019 tournament, which is also set to be held in Plettenberg Bay.
The Sunshine Senior Tour has partnered with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and will ensure the event raises funds in support of the humpback dolphin that is indigenous to the region.
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