Courageous Coussaud triumphs at SA Stroke Play

2015SASP_UdoCoussard2_GNGUPORT ELIZABETH, 6 February 2015 – Ugo Coussaud claimed the South African Stroke Play Championship title on Friday, but the first French champion in the history of the prestigious event had to show some real French flair at the final hole to triumph at Port Elizabeth Golf Club.

Coussaud carded a final round four-under-par 68 to clinch a three stroke victory over South Africa’s Rupert Kaminski on a winning score of 15-under-par 273.

Overnight leader Kaminski eagled the par-four 16th and boxed a 12-footer for birdie at the 18th for a 72 to finish in second, one stroke ahead of South Africa’s Armandt Scholtz (71) and Romain Langasque from France, who registered rounds.

Defending champion Jason Smit led the Gauteng North challenge.

The Irene golfer fired a final round a four under 68 to tie for 11th, while Wingate Park’s Andrew van der Knaap finished a further stroke back after closing with a 75.

Coussaud was extremely pleased to have his name edged alongside such greats as four-time Major winner Ernie Els, former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and European Tour champions Richard Sterne, Branden Grace and Dawie van der Walt.

“I don’t really know if I want to laugh or cry,” Coussaud said. “My arms are still shaking a little. This is the most unbelievable moment of my life.  I don’t know what to do; I just want to smile.”

The 22-year-old Angouleme golfer flashed a dazzling smile at the crowds after boxing a long uphill putt for birdie at the 18th, but he was not smiling just 15 minutes earlier.

He flew his tee shot nearly 290 meters, but it headed straight into the rough on the right. He pulled his approach at the par-five closing hole and the ball travelled straight to the 10th tee.

The Frenchman found his ball nestled against an irrigation hose a flowerbed next to the tee box.

His only option out of trouble was to chip the ball backwards in the direction of the fairway, but the hose interfered with his swing.

“The rules official determined that the hose was an immovable obstruction because we couldn’t lift it or move it and I was given a free drop in some thick grass next to the flowers,” Coussaud explained.

He still had a huge distance to cover to the pin, which was set at the back of the green, but the Laval University graduate showed great composure and his chip landed 20-feet below the hole.

“I knew I was in trouble after my tee shot,” Coussaud said.

“I drove it very far, but it was buried in the thick rough. My little arms were still aching when I got to the flowerbed, because I hit the ball very hard to get it out of that thick grass.

I wasn’t too nervous, because I knew I had three shots in hand and chipping is the best part of my game. But it felt really good to make the birdie after all the drama.”

Coussaud carded rounds of 66, 71 and 68 to start the final round one off the pace.

Kaminski opened with three successive bogeys and Coussaud quickly took advantage and erased a drop at the second with back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth.

He took the pole position with a birdie at the par-five eighth and pulled away from the pack with another gain at the 11th and a birdie at the 16th after he drove the green.

The Frenchman missed a return putt for bogey at the par-three 17th, but negated the drop with his birdie finish.

“Before this win, my proudest moment was when I won the University National Championships with my team in 2012 in Canada,” the Frenchman said.

“But this is definitely the highlight of my career. To win on my first visit to South Africa is very special.”

273 Ugo Coussaud FRA 66 71 68 68
276 Rupert Kaminski 68 67 69 72
277 Armandt Scholtz 73 67 66 71; Romain Langasque FRA 72 70 64 71
280 Gary Hurley IRL 70 72 72 66; Gavin Moynihan IRL 68 71 70 71
282 Ewen Ferguson SCO 65 71 71 75
283 Craig Ross SCO 70 70 72 71; Dylan Naidoo 69 70 72 72; Luke Trocado 69 66 76 72
284 Jade Buitendag 75 69 66 74; Jason Smith 71 72 73 68; Jeong Weon Ko FRA 71 69 71 73; Darin de Smidt 70 71 70 73; Johan Germishuys 69 71 71 73; Ian Snyman 68 72 73 71
285 Jack Hume IRL 72 71 71 71; Connor Syme SCO 71 71 74 69; Aubrey Beckley 71 71 70 73; Jeremy Gandon FRA 67 78 71 69
286 Paul Boshoff 72 71 73 70; Tristen Strydom 72 69 74 71; Andrew van der Knaap 70 74 67 75

PHOTO – South African Stroke Play champion, Ugo Coussaud from France; credit Michael Sheehan.