PORT ALFRED, 13 August 2017 – Wilco Nienaber celebrated his eighth turn in the winner’s circle this season with a Sunshine Tour Junior Series breakthrough on Sunday.
The lanky Bloemfontein golfer fired a final round five-under-par 67 to close out a one shot victory on seven under 209 in the Sun International Africa Junior Open at the Fish River Sun Hotel and Country Club Resort.
Deon Germishuys, the season’s first Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series winner, finished in second, while Southern Cape duo Christo Lamprecht and Bradley de Beer tied for third at five under.
“It’s been an unbelievable season so far, but I’m seriously stoked with this win,” said the 17-year-old GolfRSA National Squad Player. “After winning three Nomads national titles this year and twice on the Global Junior Golf Tour, I’ve been frustrated that I couldn’t bring the same form to the Sunshine Tour Junior Series.
“I had chances last year, and so far this season I couldn’t do better than sixth in Dimension Data Junior Open and the Tshwane Junior Open. It feels really great to join the Sunshine Tour Junior Series club.”
Nienaber and Lamprecht headed into the final round on two under and two shots behind De Beer, but it only took six holes for the GolfRSA Junior Team duo to overhaul the overnight leader. The Free State junior burst from the blocks with a trio of birdies and moved to six under with a fourth gain at the par five fifth, while Lamprecht edged past De Beer with birdies at the first two holes.
“I drove it just short of the green at the first, chipped up and made the birdie putt,” said Nienaber.
“I hit a good drive down the fairway at the second, but my approach finished pin high right of the green. I had to chip from 30 metres out, but I hit it stiff for my second birdie. I hit another good tee shot at the third and a lob-wedge from 80 metres to six foot for my third birdie.
“I dropped a shot at the sixth, but it was a great bogey. My tee shot finished in the bushes left, but we found the ball. The first chip barely moved, and the second finished behind a dried out tree. I hit a great wedge from 150 metres out over the tree to three feet and holed the bogey putt.”
Meanwhile Lamprecht birdied six to tie for the lead and the reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion edged one clear with his fourth birdie at the par four 10th.
He chipped in from 30 metres out for a birdie at 12, but Nienaber answered with a birdie of his own and the lead changed hands again at the 14th when Nienaber holed his second shot for an eagle two.
“I hit a great tee shot and hit gap-wedge from 150 metres,” he said. “It pitched on the front of the green and rolled in. We both parred the next three holes, but Christo’s tee shot disappeared into the bush at the 18th. Unfortunately we couldn’t find his ball and he had to re-load, leading to the double bogey.
“Deon already shot 67 to finish at six under, but luckily I had two shots in hand, because I overshot the green with my approach and then missed an eight-footer to save par after a pretty decent chip.”
Lamprecht and Nienaber will leave for Leopard Creek on Monday to contest the Fellowship Cup against India with top ranked Jayden Schaper and Luke Mayo. The juniors form part of a four-team GolfRSA squad that will face a senior, mid-amateur, open amateur and junior team in a three-day test at the legendary Leopard Creek golf course in Mpumalanga.
FINAL RESULT (top 20)
209 Wilco Nienaber 70 72 67
210 Deon Germishuys 68 75 67
211 Christo Lamprecht Jnr 70 72 69; Bradley de Beer 68 72 71
214 Barend Botha 73 71 70
218 Yurav Premlall 75 74 69; Warwick Purchase 71 78 69; Kian Rose 69 76 73
219 Saul Moss 71 78 70
220 Tyran Snyders 74 70 76
221 Jean Pierre van der Watt 75 76 70; Liam van Deventer 74 74 73
222 Ayden Senger 74 73 75; Christiaan Burke 73 72 77; Ryan van Velzen 70 80 72
223 Damian Osner 77 74 72; Lumkile Mantshiyo 74 75 74; Shaun Jones 74 72 77
224 NJ Botha 76 75 73; Rigardt Albertse 76 73 75