Thriston Lawrence wins chaotic Joburg Open, Ashley Chesters qualifies for 150th Open

The tournament was already ravaged by withdrawals before bad weather forced an end with only 36 holes played.

Thriston Lawrence became the first winner of the DP World Tour era in the most unlikely and unfortunate of fashions after the Joburg Open was reduced to a 36-hole event.

The South African had matched his lowest DP World Tour round on days one and two, with a pair of 65s sending him into the weekend at Randpark Golf Club at 12 under, four clear of the field.

What seemed like a nice advantage over the weekend became an unexpected victory.

Initially, it was decided the opening tournament of the 2022 DP World Tour season would be reduced to 54 holes to allow non-South African resident players, caddies and tournament support staff return to their home countries, with international travel restrictions imposed after the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.

However, weather delays over the first two days meant that the second round had to be completed on Saturday morning and more dangerous weather swept in lunchtime.

Large parts of the course were unplayable so officials called the result after 36 holes.

Lawrence's compatriot Zander Lombard was second on 8-under, a shot clear of another Shaun Norris and England's Ashley Chesters.

Lawrence, Lombard and Chesters each earned a spot at The 150th Open Championship next year, with Norris already exempt.

Lawrence's first win came in his 22nd DP World Tour event, with a previous best finish of T17th.

"It's so surreal," he said. "I don't think anyone thought it would turn out this way, to finish on a Saturday afternoon but I'm just really thankful. It's a life-changing moment for me. It's an unbelievable feeling.

"A lifelong dream that has come true. I played unbelievable golf these last few days. I had my card on the Sunshine Tour but I really wanted to move on to the next step. It happened so quickly. There's a lot of things that could happen next year.

"You know now you're on the Tour and you don't have to worry about invites and it gives you a lot of confidence. I wouldn't have thought it last week to be standing here in front of you guys.

"You don't get these opportunities often. I've had four years of co-sanctioned events so you build up experience but it's just unbelievable.

"It's a lifelong dream to play The Open and now it's come true. I've never played a Major, and to play your first ever Major at St Andrews is an unbelievable achievement for me and I can't wait, I'm so excited."

Chesters missed out on the chance to claim a first DP World Tour win, but he had the consolation of a fine start to the new season after he ended 2021 just outside the full status cut mark.

He will also return to the scene of his excellent performance as an amateur at the 2015 Open.

"It's very exciting," he said. "I played there as an amateur in 2015, and I did quite well which was nice but I did say at the time it would be great to go back as a professional. I'm really excited, really happy.

"We played quite a lot of golf there as amateurs and obviously I've played the Alfred Dunhill Links, so I know the course really well and hopefully that will give me a good chance come July."

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