Beckley bags Liberty Gauteng North Open title

Potchefstroom’s Aubrey Beckley raised his fist and pumped the air as he boxed in a 10-footer for a birdie and victory in the Liberty Gauteng North Open at Wingate Park Country Club on Sunday.

His eighth birdie in the final round presented Beckley with a final round score of a seven-under-par 65 and served up a one stroke victory on 14 under 274 over Malcolm Mitchell from Kloof Country Club, who led the second and third rounds.


That crucial birdie also ended an 11-month title drought on the GolfRSA Open Amateur circuit.

Beckley’s last visit to the winner’s circle came courtesy of a five-shot victory in the Sanlam Cape Province Open at Kingswood Golf Estate and the North West golfer was pleased as punch to hit on a rich vein of form before the SA Stroke Play Championship at the same course next week.

“We are heading back to George, so I was already feeling positive and this just adds to the confidence,” Beckley said.

“We had a very strong field in this event and to come out at the top is big plus. It is so important to back yourself going into the premier events. We’ve got the SA Stroke Play coming up, the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship after that and the African Amateur Championship at the end of February. To bag a win before these events means a lot for my game and my confidence.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to the team at TuksSport Golf Academy. On behalf of all players, I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to Liberty for giving Gauteng North Golf Union such incredible support.”

Beckley carded rounds of 70 and 67 and started Sunday’s third round one off the pace from Gauteng North’s Keegan Mclachlan and Mitchell from KwaZulu-Natal.

“I had a terrible start,” he said. “I had three bogeys on the front nine and dropped another shot at the 12th before I battled back to level with birdies at 15 and 16 and an eagle at the 18th.

“Malcolm shot a 68 and he was at 12 under and I was five shots off the pace. Malcolm was really solid over the three rounds, so it looked like we were going to fight for second place.”

But Beckley made a flying start in the final round.

He closed the gap on Mitchell with back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes and wiped out the deficit with a birdie at the sixth and another brace of gains at eight and nine.

“I didn’t know what was happening with the rest of the field, but I caught up with Malcolm and we both started the back nine at 12 under,” Beckley said.

“He birdied 10 to edge in front again and we both dropped the 12th. I hit a solid tee shot and had 223 metres into the green. I pushed a four iron, though and I thought the ball landed in the water. Turns out that it hit the rocks and bounced right over the boundary fence.

“After the bogey we both made solid pars at 13 and 14, but I boxed a birdie putt at 15 and holed an eight-footer for birdie at 16 to take the lead. Malcolm made a solid birdie at 18 and I knew I had to put mine in the cup, otherwise it was play-off time. I hit the putt perfectly and it was such a great feeling watching in slip into the hole.”

Dundee’s Louis Albertse posted a 68 to finish three shots back in third at 277, while Mclachlan settled for fourth on 279 after closing with an even-par 72. Garrick Higgo, who picked his first title for 2017 in the GolfRSA Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal on the junior circuit earlier this month, rounded out the top five at 81 after returning a final round 71.

274 Aubrey Beckley 70 67 72 65
275 Malcolm Mitchell 69 67 68 71
277 Louis Albertse 71 72 66 68
279 Keegan Mclachlan 69 67 71 72
281 Garrick Higgo 71 68 71 71
282 Siyanda Mwandla 73 72 70 67
283 Marco Steyn 71 69 70 73; Darin de Smidt 70 73 70 70; David Mcintyre 70 69 72 72
284 Albert Venter 75 74 69 66; Quintin Wilsnach 73 68 73 70; Slade Pickering 72 73 72 67; Jayden Schaper 72 70 72 70
285 Jason Smith 72 71 72 70; Jeremy Freiburghaus SUI 70 72 71 72
286 Aneurin Gounden 73 68 75 70; Combrinck Smit 72 77 68 69; Matt Saulez 72 73 74 67
287 Kyle McClatchie 73 73 71 70; Nico du Buisson 71 73 72 71

PHOTO – Aubrey Beckley with Gauteng North Golf Union president Johan Struwig (left) and Donovan Twiname from Libertyl; credit GNGU.