YORKSHIRE champion Jamie Bower recorded his "biggest win to date" when he lifted the Gauteng North Open title at Irene Golf Club in South Africa with a dramatic final-green flourish.
The Meltham player holed an 18-foot putt for a birdie to finish ahead of South Africa’s Garrick Higgo, who bogeyed the 18th after leading for most of the round.
“This is probably is my biggest win to date and my first outside the UK so it's definitely really special for me” said Bower, who was 13 under for 72 holes.
Two opening rounds of 68 had given him the halfway lead and he added an impressive 66 in round three.
But his lead was just one going into the final round after Higgo carded a 64.
The South African moved three shots clear of Bower as the last day's action unfolded, but the Yorkshire county player, playing in the final group just behind his rival, narrowed the gap and and when his chance came on the 18th he grabbed it.
“I heard a few rumours that Garrick had dropped some shots and that I was tied with him coming up the last,” said Bower. “But I didn't know for certain so I just tried to make the best score I could and hope it was enough - luckily that was birdie," he said.
“I had a much shorter putt on a similar line in the morning, which I holed, so I did fancy it.”
The last-green birdie gave him a final round score of one-over 73, while Higgo took 75.
Bower went on: “I had an idea in my head of what score I needed to win and I thought if I could get to 16 under - double my score from the first two rounds - then that would be good enough. I didn't manage it, but thankfully 13 under was good enough.”
Bower is part of an England Golf squad touring South Africa and has got off to a flying start with this win in their first event.
“I've been working very hard on my long game over the winter, under the guidance of England coach Alan Thompson, and I've been hitting the ball great tee to green this week, which is very pleasing. I'm obviously delighted to get off to such a good start on the tour and I can't wait for the next event.”
Bower was joined in the event by Alfie Plant (Sundridge Park) and Paul Kinnear (Formby) who both made the cut in the championship. Their next date is the South African Stroke Play, which starts on Tuesday at Blue Valley Golf Club.