Van der Knaap romps to victory in KZN

AndrewVanDerKnaap_GNGUThe golfing gods were smiling on Pretoria’s Andrew van der Knaap, who put the seal on a magnificent performance in KwaZulu-Natal with a runaway victory in the Prince’s Grant Amateur in early May.

The 22-year-old Centurion Country Club golfer triumphed on 14-under-par 274, finishing 12 strokes clear of fellow Gauteng North amateur Philip Kruse and Rupert Kaminski from Central Gauteng.

Van der lagged three strokes behind fellow TuksSport Golf Academy player Teaghan Gauche after an opening 70, but proved unstoppable once he got the bit between his teeth.

He vaulted into contention with a second round 68 and, taking advantage of the par-fives at the Peter Matkovich-designed championship course, he conjured a magical seven-under-par 65 amidst the most brutal conditions of four rounds to surge 10 strokes clear of his challengers.

The Pretoria amateur outgunned the rest of field with a closing 71 in more windy conditions on the final day and deservedly took home the coveted trophy after an untouchable production at the Dolphin Coast layout.

The victory was a memorable one for Van der Knaap.

Juggling studies and competition is a tough balancing act for the final year BSc Sport Science student at the University of Pretoria, who will also be completing his PGA Teaching Professional diploma this year.

“Obviously I want to pass my PGA course and gain a good pass in my degree, but I also want to compete. It is quite a mission for me to plan a schedule around the exams for both, which is why this victory is all the sweeter.”

Over the four rounds of competition, Van der Knaap countered a double bogey and half-a-dozen drops with a slew of birdies.

“I was 13-under on the par-five over 72 holes, which really boosted my score,” he said.

“I was striking the ball exceptionally well and when I missed the rare fairway, it was by a few inches. I hit 80% of the greens in regulation, too. I was never in any kind of trouble.

“It really feeds the confidence when you are able to string together four solid rounds like that, especially if you are not competing full-time.”

Van der Knaap led a strong Gauteng North assault, with Kruse from Woodhill tied for second, Wingate Park’s Gauche finishing fourth on even-par and reigning Sanlam Cape Province Open champion sharing 10th on 297 with KZN rising star Siyanda Mwandla and 2015 Eastern Province/Border Stroke Play championIan Snyman from Western Province.

274 Andrew van der Knaap 70 68 65 71
286 Philip Kruse 68 77 70 71; Rupert Kaminski 69 70 75 72
288 Teaghan Gauche 67 72 74 75
289 Aubrey Beckley 72 69 72 76; Sean Bradley 73 68 76 72
291 Malcolm Mitchell 71 78 67 75; Jason Rossiter 75 73 71 72
293 Tristen Strydom 79 72 72 70
297 James du Preez 74 69 73 81; Siyanda Mwandla 75 74 69 79; Ian Snyman 73 74 70 80

PHOTO – Prince’s Grant Amateur winner Andrew van der Knaap; credit Franz Strauss / Prince’s Grant