Dr Bam champ De Lange primed for SA Open qualifier

SA U19 Boys Golf ChampionshipKeegan de Lange romped to a three-shot victory in the season-opening Dr Bam Nomads National Order of Merit at Pollak Park Golf Club on Monday and the 17-year-old Pretoria golfer is ready for another fast finish in the SA Open qualifier at Irene Golf Club on Tuesday.

De Lange shared the overnight lead on five under with fellow Pretoria junior Rosswell Sinclair.

He reeled in seven birdies for a final round five-under-par 67 to triumph on 10 under 206, while Centurion’s Sinclair eagled the 18th for a two under 70 to ensure a one-two finish for Gauteng North Golf Union.

Southern Cape’s Cameron Moralee and Dylan Naidoo from Central Gauteng both registered 69s to share third at six under.

Julien Sale from Reunion carded a 69 to take sole fifth on 214 and first round leader Sentanio Minnie from Ekurhuleni finished a further stroke back after a closing 72.

De Lange came agonisingly close to podium finishes in the final two junior events of 2014 and was thrilled to convert the runner-up finishes into victory ahead of the SA Open qualifying.

“I played really well in the Nomads National Order of Merit at Silver Lakes and the Joburg Junior Open in December, but both times someone else just put together a better final round,” the Pretoria Country Club golfer said.

“I decided to change my approach and get more aggressive. Although I made a few mistakes, I managed to make a lot of birdies to limit the damage.

“Hopefully I can carry this form into the qualifier at Irene and play myself into the SA Open.”

The reigning Gauteng North Stroke Play champion would love to join top amateurs Triston Strydom, Gerlou Roux, Hendrikus Stoop, Matthew Spacey and Jason Smith at Glendower Golf Club.

“It’s every amateur’s dream to play our national Open, but it’s a big mountain to climb,” he said.

“I am hitting the ball really well, and the putter is hot at the moment. Hopefully it stays hot and I can win one of the four spots on offer. The professionals will be hard to beat, though, but you can only try your best and see where the chips fall.”

De Lange, who shot a career low seven-under-par 65 in a Nomads National Order of Merit event two years ago, tied for third in the Gauteng North Silver Salver at Irene in November and believes his past performances at the championship layout will silence his nerves.

“I have to admit that I’m nervous about the qualifier, but I’m very comfortable at Irene and I like the layout,” De Lange said.

“The course suits my game and I enjoy playing there, especially when my game is in good form. I think once I get going, it will definitely help that I am familiar with the layout and that I’ve had some solid finishes there.”

PHOTO: Gauteng North junior Keegan de Lange won the Dr Bam Nomads National Order of Merit at Pollak Park Golf Club; credit Rogan Ward.