20 June 2012 – Michael Loppnow was the last South African standing after the gruelling 36-hole Stroke Play Qualifier at the 117th British Amateur Championship at Royal Troon, but the Milnerton amateur made an early exit in the first round on Wednesday.
Nine top South African amateurs teed off at the British Amateur, but Loppnow was the only player to make the match play stage and join the 77 hopefuls from 25 countries hunting amateur golf’s ultimate prize – the chance to tee it up in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and a place in the 2013 US Open. The winner also traditionally receives an invitation to compete in the Masters the following year.
Loppnow carded an opening even-par 71 at the Glasgow-Gailes Links on Monday and kept his campaign on track with a second round three-over-par 74 at Troon that got him into a play-off on three-over-par 145. But, having secured his spot, the Capetonian’s joy was cut short when he got thumped 4&3 by Switzerland’s Mathias Eggenberger in the first round.
This was the last event for the six-man South African squad who has been touring in Scotland since the end of May and has competed in some top level events such as the Scottish Amateur, St Andrews Links Trophy and a victorious test against six players from the Scottish Golf Union National Mens Squad.
South African Golf Association president, who has accompanied the team, said the players were very disappointed with the result.
“They are gutted, to say the least,” said Burger. “On Monday we experienced probably the best weather since we arrived in the United Kingdom. They were all really excited and most of them turned in good opening scores. But on Tuesday the players were literally blown away when the wind started pumping and turned into a vicious, howling gale, blowing in straight from the sea.”
Burger said that Ekurhuleni’s Gert Smith and Haydn Porteous from Central Gauteng, who tied for second at the Scottish Amateur and posted a top 20 finish at St Andrews, posted good scores in the first round and was unlucky to miss the cut by just two strokes.
“It was a tough break for Haydn and Gert, because the inclement weather definitely contributed to their second round scores. But, as far as I am concerned, the value of the tour lies not in the results, but in the experienced gained over the last four weeks and I am sure in time, the players will agree with me.
“This tour was geared at giving our top players the opportunity to tee it up against the best amateurs in the world under enormous pressure, to gain experience from playing courses completely foreign to them and to experience conditions they are never subjected to at home.
“The players have all said that the tour has been an unbelievable learning curve for them. Although they are very disappointed with the result at the British Amateur, I believe the experience will serve them well in years to come.”
South African Results
145 Michael Loppnow 71-74
147 Haydn Porteous 70-77; Gert Myburgh 72-75
149 Aubrey Barnard 72-77
151 CJ du Plessis 76-75; Shaun Smith 71-80
152 JP Strydom 71-81
154 Brandon Stone 79-75
158 Drikus Bruyns 80-78