JOHANNESBURG, 16 March 2016 – Unheralded Dylan Kok upstaged some of the country’s leading lights to lift the 2016 Pro Shop Northern Amateur Stroke Play Championship title at Randpark Golf Club on Tuesday.
Lali Stander – The 18-year-old Gauteng North player closed with a three-under-par 69 to claim his first provincial victory on 15 under 201 in the weather-shortened 54-hole Qualifier at the Firethorn Course.
Kok finished two strokes clear of Tristen Strydom and 2016 Sanlam Cape Province Open champion Aubrey Beckley returned a pair of 68s to share second, while Southern Cape’s Andre Nel and South Africa’s top ranked Marco Steyn tied for fifth on 205.
Nel fired a 66 and joint overnight leader Steyn closed with a 73.
Kok lagged four off the pace from Steyn after opening with a four under 68, but he was in sparkling form on day two. He peppered the pins with solid ball striking to post an eight under 64 that rocketed him to pole position at the 36-hole mark.
“You get a confidence boost and you just have to ride it,” said the Woodhill golfer. “You just have to focus on all of the good that’s been happening and ride the wave.”
Kok slept on a one stroke lead over fellow Gauteng North player James du Preez, but still had Steyn to worry about. The 2014 champion was just one shot behind, but still had four holes to complete after play was suspended late on Monday afternoon due to thunderstorms.
Steyn boxed a birdie putt at the seventh and signed for a 68 to grab a share of the lead, but couldn’t keep pace with his co-leader in the third and final round.
Kok overturned a bogey at the second with a string of four birdies from the fourth to push clear of the chasing pack and reversed a bogey at 10 with a birdie at 12 to protect his lead.
“At the 14th, I hit a five iron in from 2011 metres to 20 feet and boxed the putt for eagle and that gave me some breathing room,” said the Tshwane amateur.
“Unfortunately I didn’t make the par putt at 18. You don’t really want to win with a bogey finish, but I guess it doesn’t really matter. I’m just chuffed that I finally broke through.”
Kok credit acclaimed coach Gavin Levenson for his recent form.
“I started working on my swing with Gavin a few weeks ago,” he said.
“My elbow was too far out on the back swing and bringing it closer has given me a lot of control. It’s amazing that one small thing can have such a huge effect on how I’m playing. I only played a couple of tournaments last year, because the academics had to take priority. It’s been really nice to get out there and play a full schedule this year and hopefully this is just the start for Gavin and me.”
Due to the shortened qualifier, the Match Play Championship was reduced to the top 32.
Kok will face David Rebelo from Kyalami Country Club in the first round, while Strydom goes up against Philip Kruse from Woodhill and Beckley will challenge 2016 African Amateur Stroke Play Championship winner Albert Venter from Centurion Country Club.
Steyn goes head-to-head with Tristan Brice from Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, while Nel faces off against reigning Central Gauteng Mid-Amateur Open champion Ryan Dreyer.
FINAL RESULT – TOP 10
201 Dylan Kok 68 64 69
203 Tristen Strydom 68 67 68; Aubrey Beckley 66 69 68
205 Andre Nel 67 72 66; Marco Steyn 64 68 73
207 Cameron Moralee 67 70 70; James du Preez 65 68 74
208 Dylan Naidoo 69 72 67
209 Louis Albertse 70 73 66; Combrinck Smit 69 74 66; David Meyers 69 67 73
211 Jovan Rebula 71 67 73; Luke Trocado 69 75 67; Jason Smith 69 73 69
212 Garrick Higgo 68 76 68
213 Angus Ellis-Cole 71 69 73; Etienne J van Rensburg 70 72 71
214 Herman Loubser 71 74 69; David Mcintyre 71 71 72; Sean Bradley 69 71 74