Kruse claims Harry Oppenheimer Trophy

Philip Kruse and George Schwartzel_GNGUVEREENIGING, 19 November 2015 – Woodhill amateur Philip Kruse boxed an eagle putt at the final hole at Maccauvlei Country Club to celebrate a long-awaited return to the winner’s circle in the Harry Oppenheimer Trophy on Thursday.

The 19-year-old Pretoria golfer collected the Vaal Amateur Trophy as the leading amateur through 36-holes with rounds of 67 and 68 and fired a flawless seven under 65 in the third round to maintain his hold on the championship.

Eighteen holes and an even-par 72 later, Kruse joined a prestigious list of past winners with a five stroke victory on 16-under-par 272.

Kruse was delighted to see his name added to a trophy that boasts past winners like former PGA Tour winner David Frost, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, 2014 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year Haydn Porteous and defending champion Tristen Strydom, the reigning number one amateur in South Africa.

“I could get used to this,” the Gauteng North amateur joked.

“The last time I picked up a trophy was at the Border Championship at Fish River Country Club three years ago.

“I went through an 18 month period where I just went off the boil and really struggled with my game, but over the last year, I’ve worked really hard with my coach Gavan Levenson to turn things around. Slowly but surely I am getting back to the kind of form I had when I ranked in the top 10.

“It’s been a long road back, but the hard work finally paid off.”

Having blistered the course in the morning, Kruse was frustrated when he struggled to find the greens in the final round.

“I hit 17 greens in the morning and three of the par-fives in two, but once we started the final round, I just couldn’t find a green,” he said.

“I bogeyed the first and had a three-putt double bogey at the seventh and dropped two more shots on the back nine. Luckily my putter stayed hot to save me.

“It was just really frustrating after that great third round in the morning. I just tried to keep my focus and played shot-for-shot. I was also in contention at the Central Gauteng Open on Sunday and I finished in a tie for second, so it was probably just a case of golf overload.

“It’s really good to know that my game is back to the level that I can still scramble and play well even when I am struggling.”

The victory was a timely one for Kruse, who is heading to the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School next month.

“I’m going to take a little break and just practice and then I’ll play the final IGT Tour Race to Q-School event to sharpen my game for Bloemfontein,” he said.

“This win came just at the right time, but I’m even more pleased that I could produce two really good weeks in the row before Q-School.”

Reigning Nomads SA Boys U-17 champion Herman Loubser from Boland closed with a 68 to take sole second on 11 under

Gauteng North pair James du Preez and Jason Smith tied for third on nine under with respective final rounds of 74 and 68.

272 Philip Kruse 67 68 65 72
277 Herman Loubser 69 71 69 68
279 James du Preez 75 64 66 74; Jason Smith 76 67 68 68
281 Aubrey Beckley 72 68 74 67
285 Keegan de Lange 74 69 69 73; Blaine Dormehl 72 70 69 74
286 Jason Viljoen 71 69 73 73; Cameron Moralee 71 71 72 72; Luke Jerling 67 70 74 75Ends

 PHOTO – 2015 Harry Oppenheimer champion Philip Kruse with George Schwartzel; credit CGGU.