Martin Couvra became the proud first French winner of the Proudfoot Trophy on Monday, but he needed two sudden-death holes to see off reigning Amateur champion Aldrich Potgieter in the 36-hole stroke play qualifier of the South African Amateur Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate.
As the mercury rose quickly in the early morning of the final round at The Woods course, Potgieter caught fire and set the par-70 course alight with a blemish-free nine-under-par 61.
Starting on the 10th, the Southern Cape golfer picked up three birdies and reeled off five more on the trot from the 11th before picking up a last gain on his 17th hole to set the clubhouse target at 13 under.
Not to be outdone, especially after his eye-catching triumph in the South African Stroke Play Championship last Thursday, Couvra also took a flawless route and forced the contest into extra time with a stunning seven-under 63.
In the ensuing sudden-death playoff, Couvra’s birdie putt on the par-four first lipped out and Potgieter had a chance to win. However, his four-footer raced past the hole, and the pair moved on to the short second.
Potgieter’s 6-iron into the green went long, and Couvra parked his tee shot safely in the middle of the dancefloor. The South African hit a superb chip that ran across the hole, leaving the Frenchman with a 20-footer for birdie to close it out. And Couvra’s putting prowess earned him yet another piece of coveted silverware on South African soil.
“I’m very happy to win for the second week,” said the 19-year-old Couvra. “I like this estate and I like these courses. It was difficult because Aldrich played very well. He missed the putt, and I made mine, but I think it was a very good match against a very good player.
“I like this course [The Woods] because it’s short, but it is very tricky in the trees and there’s a lot of rough. You have to play really well to make any birdies.”
Couvra faces Namibian Todd Parker in the first round and Potgieter goes up against fellow GolfRSA National Squad member Nash de Klerk after the pair nailed down the final two spots in the 64-man field for the match play in a five-man playoff.
The last man to win the Proudfoot Trophy, and triumph in the Match Play stage was England’s Laurie Canter at East London Golf Club in 2010.
With an impressive run of two wins in the last week, Couvra will be relishing the prospect of making more South African golf history.
“I like the match-play format. It’s like boxing. But I won’t change my game. Just hit good drives, good irons and make the putts.”
Meanwhile over on The Lakes course, overnight leader Samantha Whateley consolidated her lead in the Championship Division of the South African Women’s Stroke Play Championship. The Country Club Johannesburg golfer signed for an eventful 72 to remain three shots clear of the field.
Central Gauteng junior Casey Twidale heads up the chasing pack on 144, with Bobbi Brown and Jasmine Furstenburg a further four shots adrift.
“Today went well but it was tough out there and I made a few mistakes,” said Whateley, “I’ve never played in such hot conditions before, and it was really challenging.
“The Lakes course is a lot narrower than the Woods, and if you miss the fairway here, the rough is huge and very thick. It’s very difficult to get it anywhere near the green. I’m happy though with my round and looking forward to a cooler day for the final round.”
In the Silver Division, 15-year-old Charlotte Phipps took advantage of her local knowledge of the tricky par-72 layout to pull away from the field.
The Mount Edgecombe golfer will sleep on a comfortable 15-stroke lead over Sarah Gutuza and Valentina Sakota.