Dainfern rookie Cameron Moralee needs no further vindication for his decision to use the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour to kick-start his professional career after a glorious breakthrough on the golf development circuit on Wednesday.
The champion revealed his motivation to join the pro ranks in April after he claimed a three-shot victory with a nine-under-par 209 in the eighth event at Wingate Park Country Club.
'It's all about learning how to win,' said Moralee, who boxed a 20-footer for birdie at 18th for a final round 70.
'Wherever you play, you're going to have 10 or 11 guys you're going to have to beat. You're always trying to finish in the best position every week. I played the amateur circuit and I cut my teeth against the pros on the IGT Challenge Tour last year. Turning pro this year took me out of my comfort zone. It took my game to the next level. That's how you do it. One level at a time.'
The former IGT Challenge Tour winner came back from a six-week lay-off two weeks ago and showed that his competitive desire was burning as bright as ever.
Moralee was composure and confidence personified as he started the final round one shot behind Sunshine Tour professional Francois Coetzee.
The 19-year-old got off to a birdie-birdie start while Coetzee sandwiched a pair of birdies between bogeys at 1st and 4th. Coetzee had further bogies at 6th and 8th, but bogeyed the 7th and Moralee took control of the tournament when he holed a trap-shot at the par -three 8th.
The former SA Open Freddie Tait Trophy winner never surrendered the lead, not even when he gave shots back to the field at 13th and 17th.
Coetzee blew his chances with a double bogey at 15th and a bogey finish for a 74. He tied for second with former IGT Challenge Tour winner Hendrikus Stoop, who closed with 71.
'It definitely wasn't easy out there,' said Moralee. 'We playing a two-club wind off all the back tips to tucked pins. You needed a lot of patience out there.
'I drove the ball well and the putter behaved. I blocked myself in the trees with both bogeys, but it didn't dent my confidence. I just kept grinding.'
The win boosted Moralee to 11th in the Road to Sunshine Tour rankings and he is less than R100 outside the magic number.
'Top 10 at the end of the year takes you straight to the Sunshine Tour,' said Moralee. 'I'm so close, I can taste it. It's ironic, because I started to think I'm jinxed on this Tour.
'I tied for second in the first event and should have banked just over R7,000, but I never took out membership, so the first cheque didn't count. I didn't even finish the second event after I got hit by a golf ball in the neck. Then I got side-lined for six weeks with the pinched ligament in my shoulder.
'To be honest, I've been pretty grumpy the past couple of weeks. Monday morning before the first round I went to the Srixon van and Brendan Annandale gave me a great pep-talk. I owe him for this win, because I went out there with a positive mindset.
'I'm really happy to take this trophy home and show my parents and my coach, John Dickson, that putting up with grumpy old me for nearly two months was worth it.'
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA
207 - Cameron Moralee 70 67 70
210 - Hendrikus Stoop 68 71 71, Francois Coetzee 67 69 74
212 - Dylan Kok 72 69 71, CJ Levey 70 71 71, Luke Brown 69 69 74
213 - Matt Bright 71 69 73
214 - Irvin Mazibuko 73 70 71
215 - Kyle Barker 75 70 70
216 - Andrew Carlsson 69 71 76
217 - Daniel Hammond 72 72 73, Maritz Wessels 76 68 73, Arthur Horne (SWZ) 70 74 73
218 - Conway Kunneke 75 70 73, Arno Pretorius 75 69 74, Stefan Wears-Taylor 69 74 75, Richard Joubert 72 69 77, Gary Daoust (BEL) 71 69 78, Peetie van der Merwe 72 67 79
219 - Matthew Rushton 71 75 73, Neil Cheetham (ENG) 70 74 75, Michael Pfeifer 72 72 75
220 - Ruan Korb 68 76 76, Dylan Mostert 72 72 76, Gerhard Pepler AMA 70 73 77, Andrew Burmester 69 73 78, Leon Vorster 67 72 81
221 - Albert Venter 74 72 75, Quintin Crause 75 71 75
222 - Marco de Beer 73 73 76, Jason Rossiter 71 75 76, Divan Marais 71 75 76
223 - Jason Roets 76 70 77, Leon Visser 76 70 77, Romano Saincic 70 76 77, Zabastian de Jager 72 72 79
224 - Michael-James Steyn 72 73 79
226 - Tumelo Molloyi 74 71 81