Keegan Mclachlan has had more close calls on the South African junior amateur circuit in the last three years than you can shake a stick at, but a birdie flurry on the back nine at Houghton Golf Club finally got rid of the monkey off his back.
The 18-year-old Silver Lakes golfer celebrated his national breakthrough in spectacular come-from-behind fashion to lift the Nomads National Order of Merit Inland title on Tuesday.
Fancourt’s Devon Whitaker set the first round target with a four-under-par 68 for a one shot lead over a posse of four players, while Mclachlan lagged five off the pace.
A flawless six-under-par 66 rocketed Mclachlan to the top of the pile and he edged out Martin Vorster from Southern Cape and fellow Gauteng North junior Nicholas Souranis by one stroke to triumph on five under 139.
“It was a pretty frosty morning, but I got going nicely with two pars and drained a 20-footer for par at the par-five third to keep the round going,” Mclachlan said.
“I had a two-putt birdie at the fifth and kept the card clean all the way to the turn. At the 10th, I nearly holed my second for eagle. I boxed the six-footer for birdie, hit it pin-high left on the next hole and made the 10 foot putt for birdie.”
Mclachlan hit the green in two at 15 and two-putted from 20 feet for birdie number four.
“I didn’t hit a great shot into the short hole, and had an 80 foot putt left,” he said. “I lagged it close and made the seven-footer to save par and stay to in the mix. At 17, I nearly holed out for two again. The ball stopped a foot from the hole for an easy birdie.”
With a big group of players crowding his rear-view mirror, Mclachlan sunk another 10-footer for birdie at 18 to set the club-house target at five under, but had an hour-long wait before he know for sure that the title was his.
“I won the Glacier National Junior Series Final in 2015, which earned me a spot in the Orange Bowl Invitational, but a breakthrough on the local national circuit has been really hard to come by,” said Mclachlan. It’s an awesome feeling to finally get that monkey off my back. I feel like this is the start of better things to come, because psychologically it’s been a long and hard battle. Hopefully there is a few more titles in the future for me.
GolfRSA National Squad player Vorster also finished birdie-birdie for a 68. The Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy member shared second at four under with Central Gauteng’s Nicholas Souranis, who closed with a 69.
Werner Deyzel from Gauteng North and Bradley de Beer from Southern Cape tied for fourth at three under after respective rounds of 70 and 71.
FINAL RESULT (top 20)
139 Keegan Mclachlan 73 66
140 Martin Vorster 72 68; Nicholas Souranis 71 69
141 Werner Deyzel 71 70; Bradley de Beer 70 71
142 Ryan van Velzen 70 72; Andre van Dyk 69 73; Devon Whitaker 68 74
143 Otto van Buynder 75 68; Saul Moss 71 72; Jordan Duminy 69 74
144 Ben van Wyk 72 72; Deon Germishuys 71 73; Jayden Schaper 69 75
145 Cole Stevens 69 76
146 Yurav Premlall 74 72; Alex van Wyk 72 74; Marcus Taylor 71 75
147 Liam Cloete 75 72; Daniel Cronje 70 77