GN duo share seventh in Joburg Junior Open

Gauteng North duo Otto van Buynder and Alessio Graziani carded respective rounds of 70 and 71 to share seventh at 142 as Slade Pickering from North West completed a wire-to-wire victory in the Joburg Junior Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Friday.
Vaughn van Deventer and Luke Mayo both had a run at Pickering, but the pair came up short as the 18-year-old Pecanwood golfer produced a final round four-under-par 68 at the East Course to close out a four shot victory at 10 under 134.
Van Deventer from Ekurhuleni slotted into second with a 71 and a 71 from KwaZulu-Natal’s Mayo earned him third on his own at 139.
“It’s great to finish the season on such a high note,” Pickering said. “It’s been a while since my last victory, but I knew if I got in position that I could do it.”
Pickering threw down the gauntlet with a stunning eight-under-par 64 in the opening round and led the field by three shots.
Over the first nine holes in the final round, he mixed three birdies with a bogey to turn two under and, although he stumbled with a brace of bogeys at 14 and 15, he secured victory in the final event of the Sunshine Tour Junior Series with a sensational birdie-birdie finish.
“We just finished up our final exams, so I had low expectations coming into this week,” he said.
“I think that set up the win. I just wanted to have a little fun to wind down from the exams and to build some confidence for the SA Under-19 Inter-Provincial next week. I was hitting the ball well and just playing the course and that 64 in the first round kind of came out of left field.
“I guess that’s what happens when you play pressure-free golf. I struck the ball really well and I holed a lot of putts. I didn’t really feel any pressure when I started the final round either, but I definitely felt it down the middle of the back nine.
“I knew Vaughn and Luke were coming for me and I had two drops in quick succession. I told myself to pull it together and to try and finish strong. I made a solid par at 16 that settled me down and had 50 metres to the flag after a great drive down the 17th. I hit it to seven feet and holed the putt for a birdie that gave me a bit of breathing space.
“I missed the fairway 10 feet right at 18. I had 184 metres to the pin and I could feel the adrenaline pumping. I rifled a nine-iron into the green and almost holed out. The ball pitched three metres short of the flag and ran past the stick and off the green.
“I made a great up-and-down for birdie after I chipped it to three feet and holed the putt. It’s a great result for me, but it’s also great for the team to take a bit of confidence to Nelspruit for the Junior IPT.”
Meanwhile three of the season’s Nomads SA Boys Championship winners also featured among the top 10 finishers in the season-finale.
Under-17 winner Wilco Nienaber from Free State tied for fourth on 141, while U-19 Match Play champion Deon Germishuys from Western Province and U-15 winner Jayden Schaper from Ekurhuleni grabbed a share of ninth at one under.

134 Slade Pickering 64 70
138 Vaughn van Deventer 67 71
139 Luke Mayo 68 71
141 Robin Williams GBR 70 71; Wilco Nienaber 68 73; Keanu Pestana 67 74
142 Otto van Buynder 72 70; Alessio Graziani 71 71
143 Deon Germishuys 72 71; Jayden Schaper 69 74; Brandon Geere 69 74; Luke Pienaar 68 75
144 Marco Massiceti 73 71; Keegan Mclachlan 73 71; Liam van Deventer 69 75
145 Murad Hoosen 76 69; Bryce Leach 75 70; Andre van Dyk 72 73; Kieron van Wyk 70 75
146 Riaan Rooi 74 72; Daniel Cronje 72 74; Reece Haikney 72 74

PHOTO – Otto van Buynder; credit SAGA.