MOUNT EDGECOMBE (27 June 2013) – George teenager Jovan Rebula gave the celebrated Els family more cause to celebrate this week.
Just four days after he collected the silverware at the BMW International Championship, Ernie Els’ 15-year-old nephew staved off a spirited final round challenge from Limpopo’s Hennie du Plessis to claim a wire-to-wire victory in the Nomads SA Boys Under-17 Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club on Thursday.
The victory follows just 11 months after Rebula defeated Kyle McClatchie by three shots for the Nomads SA Boys U-15 Championship title.
Rebula fired a final round three-under-par 68 for a winning score of six-under-par 278 and a one stroke victory over Du Plessis, who fired a closing 66.
The Southern Cape golfer took the lead with an opening 68 and stretched his advantage to six shots with a second round 68. A less impressive third round 74 opened the door for Du Plessis and Ekurhuleni’s McClatchie, but the George golfer was still comfortably in command, going into the final 18 with a three shot cushion.
Although he never surrendered the lead in the final round, the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation player described the final round tussle with the Polokwane player “one of the best battles of my career”.
“Hennie was a fantastic opponent and he really turned the final round into a proper tournament for me,” Rebula said. “I never really felt under pressure this week, but Hennie played exceptional golf. He gave me a really tough time out there and he forced me to stay on my toes, keep my focus and plan my shots. It was a great battle against him.”
Rebula launched his final round with a pair of birdies and added another brace at the seventh and eighth holes. He completed the outward stretch in seven under while Du Plessis, who also went on a birdie spree with three birdied from second and another at the eighth, turned in four under.
With his three shot cushion intact, Rebula added birdie number five at the 12th but after pars at the 13th and 14th, things went a little haywire.
Du Plessis bogeyed 11, but eagled the 13th and began piling on the pressure with an impressive display off the tee. “I still had a three shot cushion when we reached the 15th, but Hennie was striking the ball very well and I could feel the pressure mounting just a little,” Rebula said.
“I pushed my tee shot just a little right and left my second a meter short of the pin. It was raining pretty hard by then and I misread the putt completely and ended up dropping a shot.”
At the par-four 16th, both players found the water off the tee.
“I had to drop in the thick stuff and my second finished short of the green, while Hennie hit his over the pin against the back fringe,” Rebula explained. I chipped to about nine feet, but I left my par putt short and Hennie holed a long, snaking 25-footer for par.”
With his lead cut to just one shot, Rebula responded – as he often does – with a birdie at the next hole.
Fairway, green and a two-foot putt for birdie put him back in command.
“I told myself that I can’t control what Hennie does, only what I do,” the youngster said. “I decided to stick to the game plan, no matter the outcome, and hopefully give myself some breathing room.”
At the final hole, both players mailed their tee shots down the fairway at 18.
“The pin was tucked back left and water surounds the back left side of the green, so I went with the conservative option,” Rebula said. “I hit it a little thick, though, and caught the front edge of the green, so I was left with a 25-footer.
“Hennie had a long birdie putt that just snuck past the hole, so I knew I had two putts to win and I just lagged it close. I don’t mind winning with a bogey. It’s the victory that counts.”
McClatchie came home in 71 strokes to finish in third on even-par 284, while Gauteng North’s Tristen Strydom took fourth on two over 286 after closing out with a two under 69.
Central Gauteng won the team competition on +43, with KwaZulu-Natal second and Southern Cape third.
FINAL ROUND – TOP 20 LEADEBOARD
278 – Jovan Rebula 68 68 74 68
279 – Hendrik Du Plessis 74 68 71 66
284 – Kyle Mcclatchie 72 70 71 71
286 – Tristen Strydom 72 73 72 69
290 – David Meyers 74 75 69 72; David Mcintyre 73 74 73 70
291 – Michael Sherriff 75 71 76 69; Gregory Mckay 72 74 74 71; Anuerin Gounden 71 73 74 73
294 – Altin van der Merwe 69 76 80 69
295 – Dylan Naidoo 77 73 72 73; M H Steyn 70 80 72 73
298 – Rupert Kaminski 79 73 72 74; Noel Anderson 77 75 74 72
299 – Clifford Thompson 72 74 81 72; Dean Martin 71 71 78 79
300 – Matt Saulez 74 74 78 74; Keegan De Lange 72 82 73 73
301 – Franco Froneman 79 75 74 73; Duncan Van der Vyver 77 74 77 73