SCOTT Jamieson chalked up Scottish golf’s fourth European Tour title triumph in the calendar year after winning a three-man play-off to land the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa.
The 29-year-old East Kilbride man secured his maiden victory on the circuit after carding a 57 on a shortened Royal Durban course in the second and final round in a weather-shortened event. Jamieson triumphed at the second extra hole after Spaniard Edoardo de la Riva had bogeyed the first and England’s Steve Webster did likewise next time round on the 18th.
The win added to Scotland’s European Tour tale of success this year, which saw Paul Lawrie notch a double triumph at the Qatar Masters and the Johnnie Walker Championship, and Richie Ramsay claim the European Masters. But Jamieson’s triumph will be listed on the 2013 schedule as the event, which saw the opening two days washed out, was the first of the new season. “Starting the day, I didn’t think I would be standing here holding the trophy,” said the Scot, who was six shots off the pace after an opening 66. “I knew I needed a fast start and I was lucky enough to get that.”
That was reference to him racing to the turn in 26, a five-under-par effort, which started at the tenth, comprising figures of 4-2-4-2-2-2-3-3-4. He birdied five of his opening nine and had eight birdies and no dropped shots in all, making use of the many more short holes on the layout after the readjustment to avoid waterlogged fairways.
“It’s an honour to win a tournament like this,” added Jamieson, who, in addition to a top prize of £96,000, was also presented with a framed drawing of Mandela. “Getting your name on any European trophy is a fantastic experience, but it’s a bit more special with someone like Nelson. I’ve got to thank my wife, Natalie, and my family, my home club of Cathkin Braes, and other people who have helped me get to this point,” he said.
“I have made nice steady progress the last four years and to get a win in my third season on the European Tour is fantastic. I was pretty nervous in the play-off but that’s why we play – to get into these situations.”
While the Scot is the early pace-setter in the 2013 Race to Dubai, he won’t go into the Tour record books as the first player to card a sub-60 round. The score was matched earlier in the day by South African Jaco Van Zyl and both efforts will carry an asterix beside them in the record books due to the course being shortened to a par-65.
The weather also cut the tournament to a 36-hole event, with the prize money also reduced but that didn’t matter to Jamieson, the world No 167, as he came from outside the top 60 overnight to become the first Scot since Stephen McAllister 22 years ago to win the Tour’s opening event. Jamieson birdied his last regular hole – he had a 12-foot eagle putt to win it outright – to join Webster and De la Riva in the sudden-death play-off.
The Scot’s previous best finishes were tied third in 2011 – in the Spanish Open, the BMW International and the Scottish Open. He is only the second Scot after Richie Ramsay, the 2010 South Africa Open champion, to win a European Tour/Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event.
Marc Warren finished 21st after a 64 to finish three-under while Peter Whiteford signed off with a 63 to earn a share of 39th at one-under. David Drysdale, rookie Scott Henry and Callum Macaulay were outside the top 100.
Jamieson’s win earns him a return to South Africa early in the New Year when he will join Lawrie, Ramsay and Colin Montgomerie in the Volvo Golf Champions event.
In addition to the European Tour wins, Catriona Matthew (Irish Open), Carly Booth (Scottish Open and Swiss Open) and Challenge Tour winners Scott Henry, Chris Doak and Raymond Russell made 2012 a year to remember for Scottish golf.