Share on:

12th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

O’Leary clinches Big Easy Play-Off for maiden title

Dylan O’Leary will breathe a sigh of relief following his one-stroke victory over Ricky Hendler in the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off held at Irene Country Club.

The 33-year-old Riyal Johannesburg and Kensington player brought a one-stroke lead into the final round of this penultimate event of the season and knew that only a strong performance would get him over the line. Lying 29th on the Order of Merit ahead of this 54-hole event, and with 12 Sunshine Tour cards up for grabs come the end of the season, O’Leary had needed to show up and he did.

He signed for four-under-par 68 on Friday to total 13-under-par 203 and win his first Sunshine Tour-sanctioned tournament.

“This is huge for me, man,” exclaimed a visibly emotional O’Leary after his win. “I’ve had three wins on the Bushveld Tour but this is the big one for me. It’s been such a long season for me and I have had my fair share of personal issues to deal with. So, to win now and in the manner I did, is super special. I was 29th on the Order of Merit before this tournament and this win is going to bump me up. It feels like all the work is now paying off.”

Starting from the 10th, O’Leary opened with back-to-back birdies and parred the next three holes. Another birdie found its way into his card on the 15th – his sixth – before closing that stretch with another birdie for a blemish-free 32. Coming home, and after making pars on 10 and 11, O’Leary’s progress was halted, no thanks to bogeys on 12 and 13. He steadied himself once more and made three straight pars before closing with two birdies on 17 and 18.

“Things got a little wobbly on 12 and 13,” he noted, “and I had to quickly redirect my thoughts. Then, I got to the last two holes and I just got this renewed energy because Ricky was playing solidly. That guy can play; he just refuses to give up and when you have a playing partner like that, it rubs off you and I just had to keep going.

“Winning on this Tour is so tough and competing against guys like Ricky; he won’t take his foot off the gas, so you also need to step up. But, I am glad I managed to get it done, especially at this time in the season. It really helps to stay patient.”

Hendler was every bit as brilliant on Friday, popping up with a 68 of his own to make it a proper competition. Having secured his card already for next season’s Sunshine Tour campaign, Hendler will have another opportunity for a win in next week’s Final at Blue Valley Golf Estate.

Only the top 30 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Final at Blue Valley.