• Vorster cements his status

    Martin Vorster
    Winner winner

    South Africa’s Martin Vorster boxed a 30-footer for eagle in the final hole of regulation play on Thursday to force a play-off, then wore down his opponent in the fourth hole of the sudden-death shoot-out to win the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club.

    The 18-year-old Southern Cape golfer edged out Great Britain’s Olly Huggins when he made par on the first hole, after replaying the 18th three times was not enough to break the deadlock when both players finished on four-under-par for the tournament – and those play-off holes were interrupted by a lengthy weather delay after they had played 18 again twice.

    ‘It was unreal,’ said Vorster. ‘I’m speechless. This win means so much to me.’

    It means a lot, because it was Vorster’s fourth international victory in four years after he won the 2017 Italian U-16 International, 2018 Junior Open and the 2019 East of Ireland.

    The GolfRSA National Squad member also captained the South African Junior Proteas to a record-setting 41-under-par victory in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan last year – a full 18 years after Major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel captured the country’s first title with Albert Kruger and Christian Ries.

    For long periods of the final round, Huggins was in control by virtue of his smart play and his great putting. He laid up on all the par-fives, aimed for the biggest part of the greens in the face of tough pin positions and then making putts when he needed them.

    Vorster, however, was stalking him through the back nine.

    A birdie on 15 put him within two strokes of the lead. ‘I had a bit of a rough start,’ he said. ‘After nine holes, I knew I was a bit behind and I had to make a few birdies. I made two on 13 and 15, and then missed a very short one on 17. I knew then that Olly had finished on four-under so I had to make the eagle on the last – thankfully it fell!’

    That it did fall was in no small part due to some good putting all week.

    ‘The putting definitely saved me this week,’ he said. ‘I made a few good ones down the stretch, and the one on 18 in regulation was the longest for the week and it happened at the right time.’

    For the play-off, Vorster unfurled his power game, and Huggins, so conservative in regulation, was compelled to follow suit. It all worked well for the Huggins until they returned after the weather delay to set off down 18 for the third time.

    The Louis Oosthuizen Golf Academy player took advantage of a tailwind that had picked up, and smashed his drive 40 metres further than he had at any time before during the week.

    It left him a gentle wedge to the green on the par-five with the island green, and, although the pair shared the honours for the third time in the play-off, the change in the routine to the first had left Huggins clearly somewhat intimidated.

    Although Vorster smashed his drive into the right rough on the first – the next designated play-off hole – he had got into Huggins’ head.

    The Englishman short-sided himself, Vorster recovered well enough to chip his third to a foot while Huggins was 20 feet away from the hole for three.

    And that was all Vorster needed.

    ‘I’m gutted obviously,’ said Huggins. ‘I’m really happy with the week. I’ve done what I said I was going to do, which was hit fairways, hit greens, make the putts – I played really nicely. I found out how to play this course after the first round when I shot four-over.’

    In third place behind the dramatics provided by the play-off was Ryan van Velzen, who led through the first two rounds. The Benoni teenager recovered from his third-round blowout of 11-over-par 83 to post a final level-par 72 to end up on two-under, just two shots off the top of the leaderboard.

    England’s Joseph Long shot the round of the day with his six-under-par 66, one better than Huggins’ effort, and he shared fourth place with South Africa’s Jordan Duminy. The Irish duo of Caolan Rafferty and James Sugrue finished on three-over for the tournament to share sixth.

    For Vorster, it was a victory to savour. ‘I just want to thank everybody for the support,’ he said. ‘And the people who came out to watch the play-off. It was a relief to find my ball on that final hole, and then to get it up and down from the edge of the green was great.’

    Final Result

    All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified

    284 Martin Vorster 70 67 76 71; Olly Huggins GBR 76 69 72 67

    285 Ryan van Velzen 64 66 83 72

    289 Joseph Long GBR 74 68 81 66; Jordan Duminy 69 74 74 72

    291 Caolan Rafferty IRL 74 72 71 74; James Sugrue IRL 69 68 78 76

    292 Haider Hussain ENG 70 71 77 74

    293 Tom Mckibbin IRL 75 73 73 72; Yurav Premlall 72 75 72 74

    294 Samuel Simpson 76 71 70 77; Casey Jarvis 72 74 70 78; Gustav Andersson SWE 70 76 73 75

    295 Altin van der Merwe 73 75 74 73; Gregory Mckay 72 71 77 75

    296 Keagan Thomas 78 72 70 76; Andrew Williamson 76 77 73 70; Tom Vaillant FRA 75 72 74 75; Luca Filippi 75 71 78 72

    297 Kyle de Beer 74 78 72 73; Connor Wilson SCO 73 68 80 76; Robin Williams GBR 70 70 84 73; Christo Lamprecht Jnr 67 71 83 76

    298 James Wilson SCO 77 71 75 75

    299 Sam Bairstow ENG 79 71 78 71; Tyran Snyders 78 77 70 74; Liam van Deventer 71 69 81 78

    300 Christiaan Maas 77 70 81 72; Jake Bolton ENG 75 73 77 75; Algot Kleen SWE 68 74 81 77

    301 Peter Handcock GBR 75 74 75 77; Martin Couvra FRA 75 72 78 76

    302 Nicolas Muller FRA 75 77 74 76; Aurelien Douce FRA 73 76 78 75; Adam Wallin SWE 72 73 81 76

    303 Hugo Thyr SWE 79 71 78 75; Ayden Senger 78 72 77 76; Siyanda Mwandla 74 76 75 78; Matthew Mcclean IRL 72 82 70 79

    304 Therion Nel 75 79 74 76; Lewis Irvine SCO 74 73 77 80

    305 Robert Brazill IRL 84 72 73 76; Stuart Easton SCO 76 79 75 75; Nikhil Gopal 73 74 82 76

    306 Nikhil Rama 73 76 81 76

    307 Darren Howie SCO 77 73 81 76

    308 Rigardt Albertse 71 71 80 86

    309 Jordan Burnand 79 77 75 78; Hugo Archer FRA 75 79 77 78

    310 Drikus Joubert 75 77 78 80

    311 Wilmer Edero SWE 80 74 75 82

    317 Pierre Pellegrin 74 76 81 86

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