Sole clinches SKZN Closed, wonky leg and all

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Quintin van Jaarsveld

Gavin Sole managed to overcome a bizarre injury in the opening round of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Closed to clinch the title at San Lameer on Sunday.

The “Big Fish” as he’s fondly known, may just as well have been playing at his home club Southbroom, as he took command with a four-under-par 68 in the morning round.

Sole kept a cool head after getting the second round off to a nightmare start and signed for an ever-par 72 to win by four from Jason Gilliver on 140.

“I guess I’m still managing to keep the spring chickens at bay,” the veteran told eHowzit.

“It’s always nice to win and San Lameer is a course that I enjoy and really suits my game,” said Sole, who won his ninth San Lameer Open title recently.

It was the most bizarre of the multi-time Southern KwaZulu-Natal Closed champion’s wins, as he slipped down steps and jolted his leg on the 11th hole in the morning session.

“I thought that I was going to have to pull out, but David [Rush] gave me some tablets which helped with the pain and I managed to get through the day.”

Sole saw the lighter side of the incident, saying, “It made me realise my age.” The 48-year-old added, “It might’ve actually helped because it took my mind off playing and on just getting through the pain.”

A sore Sole bounced back with the highlight of the morning’s play, sinking an eagle on 13.

“That kept me going. If I hadn’t made that eagle and maybe made a double drop I might’ve said I can’t continue, so that was huge and kept me focused.”

The afternoon round tested Sole’s desire as he bogeyed the first and double bogeyed the second to cut his four-stroke lead to one. It was game on again, but he used his experience and flat blade to finish the job.

“My putting is one of the strongest parts of my game at the moment and that makes a huge difference because if you’re playing badly, you can still recover.”

As for the 2019 season, Sole said he’ll take it tournament by tournament.

“I’d like to make the mid-amateur team again, but I’m going to take it one tournament at a time and assess where I’m at.”

He’s unsure if he’ll be up for this year’s South African Inter-Provincial, but the long-standing captain of the KwaZulu-Natal side is hoping for a perfect tournament swansong in 2020.

“San Lameer might host the SA Inter-Provincial next year and if that’s the case, I would really like to finish off there. I would’ve turned 50 by then…that’s when you know it’s your last one,” he laughed.

Jarrod van Wyk (149), Mitch Hampson (150) and Sean Baker (151) rounded off the top five of this year’s Southern KwaZulu-Natal Closed, while Grant Richards won the B Division on 38 points.

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