On another balmy day at Humewood Golf Club, unheralded Keaton Slatter and Dylan Kok were a picture of mental calmness as they played their way into the quarter-final of the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship on Wednesday.
Slatter, from KwaZulu-Natal, eliminated reigning English Amateur champion Dan Brown and former SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith to reach the last eight, while Kok, from Gauteng North, sent reigning SA Stroke Play champion Edgar Catherine packing.
Slatter had some giant butterflies when he learned he was facing Brown in the second round.
‘I never expected to get past him because he is a top-ranked English player and this is my first SA Amateur,’ he admitted. ‘My parents didn’t think so either, and we joked about it last night. My mom has back problems and she can’t walk 18 holes, so I said she should walk the back nine and my dad said: “I think you meant the first nine holes”.
‘After Dan I had to play Jason, who is one of South Africa’s top players and I knew it would be another dog-fight. We were all square through seven, but when Jason dropped three shots around the turn and I went 4-up with a birdie at 11, I had a chance. He birdied 12, but we halved the next four holes in two pars and two birdies and I took the match 3 & 2.’
Having gone further than he anticipated, the 22-year-old from Westville said anything after this point would be a bonus.
‘My goal was to make the match play field, so this is amazing,’ he said. ‘I completed my PGA Diploma at TSGE last year and I only started playing the national amateur circuit this year. I didn’t put any pressure on myself, which is probably why I’ve come this far. I am really pleased that my parents are here to experience this with me and hopefully I can keep it going against Dylan on Thursday.’
Kok needed 22 holes to beat Ruan Groenewald in the second round, but the 19-year-old denied Catherine from France a stab at the coveted double when he took the match at the 18th.
‘I had the lead twice, but gave it back with bogeys and I was 2-down to Edgar through 11, but he gave me a shot at 13 and I birdied 15 to square the match,’ said the 2015 Northern Amateur champion.
‘We both birdied 16, but he hit his tee shot at 17 into the bush and had to take an unplayable. That took the pressure off. I hit my first putt close and he conceded the hole to give me a 1-up lead going down 18. I didn’t take any chances, just played tee to green and boxed the par putt to win.
‘This has been a fantastic experience so far, especially playing this amazing course. We’ve been really lucky with the wind, but there are some tough holes and challenges. It will all get a little tenser on Thursday, but I’m loving every moment out here.’
The remaining South Africans left in the draw are Caylum Booth and Christo Lamprecht from Southern Cape and Mpumalanga’s Andre van Heerden.
Boon beat Brandon Cloete 3 & 2 and progressed to the top eight when Richard Joubert from Gauteng North conceded at the 13th due to a migraine. He takes on Liam Johnston from Scotland, whose second match against defending champion Craig Ross ended at the sixth hole.
Ross from Scotland conceded due to illness and Johnston whipped Robert Foley from Switzerland 6 & 5 to earn his berth in the quarter-final.
Van Heerden downed Combrinck Smit 4 & 3 in the third round to set up a clash against England’s Joseph Long, who downed fellow Brit James Walker 4 & 3 in round two and Luca Filippi 3 & 2 in the third round.
In the last match out on Wednesday, 16-year-old Lamprecht ousted recent Sanlam Cape Province Open champion Garrick Higgo 1-up after he knocked out fellow Southern Cape golfer Andre Nel 3 & 2 in the second round.
The Louis Oosthuizen Junior Academy member goes up against Yashas Chandra from India.
Chandra was knocked out in the second round last year and he was thrilled with his 2 & 1 win against Slade Pickering 2 & 1, and 1-up result against Jeremy Freiburghaus from Switzerland in round three.
‘I’m really enjoying it here in Port Elizabeth because the conditions are similar to ours back home,” said the 21-year-old from Mysore. “It’s such a great experience to be playing this course, because we only have a few links-style courses in India and I haven’t had much experience on them. Every round is a learning opportunity for me and I’m really pleased that I’ve come this far.’
By Lali Stander
Joseph Long GBR VS Andre van Heerden
Caylum Boon VS Liam Johnston SCO
Keaton Slatter VS Dylan Kok
Yashas Chandra IND VS Christo Lamprecht
ROUND 3 RESULTS
Joseph Long GBR beat Luca Filippi 3 & 2;
Andre van Heerden beat Combrinck Smit 4 & 3;
Caylum Boon beat Richard Joubert Conceded;
Liam Johnston SCO beat Robert Foley SUI 6 & 5;
Keaton Slatter beat Jason Smith 3 & 2;
Dylan Kok beat Edgar Catherine FRA 1Up;
Yashas Chandra IND beat Jeremy Freiburghaus SUI 1Up;
Christo Lamprecht beat Garrick Higgo 1Up;