Venter eyes Western Province double

2016WPSP_AlbertVenter_GNGUCAPE TOWN, 21 April 2016 – Pretoria amateur Albert Venter will be looking to emulate former top ranked SA amateur Christiaan Bezuidenhout when he starts his quest for the Western Province Amateur Championship double today.

Bezuidenhout was the last player to win both the stroke play and match play divisions in 2013 and Venter is halfway to the elusive double after claiming a wire-to-wire victory in Stroke Play Championship at Clovelly Country Club on Wednesday. The 20-year-old Centurion golfer edged out former professional Danie van Niekerk from North West at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off to get the job done.

Venter pulled two shots clear of Van Niekerk with an opening 63 and stretched his lead to five strokes with a 69 in the second round after the Lichtenburgh amateur returned a 72.

A strong South-Westerly wind showed up early on the final day and Venter and Van Niekerk battled in the blustery conditions.

The 36-hole leader carded a 70 to keep control on 14 under, while reigning SA number one Marco Steyn slipped into second and two off the pace with a 66.

Jovan Rebula from Southern Cape – who recently won the Eastern Province / Border Stroke Play – also registered a 66 to join Central Gauteng’s Darin de Smidt (65) in third on 206.

Boland pair Keelan Africa and Neswill Croy finished a further stroke adrift with respective rounds of 64 and 69, while Van Niekerk dropped back to seventh on eight under after signing for a 71.

Venter had a shaky start in the final round and dropped four shots in the first four holes. He also bogeyed seven, but rallied with three birdies and an eagle at nine to get back to level par. Meanwhile Van Niekerk, reeled in three birdies and also eagled nine to gain some ground.

The pacesetter bogeyed 16 and then made a hash of 18 to finish on 12 under 276.

He drove it into the hazard on the right and fluffed his chip after taking a penalty drop and the resulting bogey saw him sign for a 74 to tie Van Niekerk. The North West amateur had the chance to win the title outright but missed the opportunity when his three foot putt for birdie slipped past the hole. Van Niekerk signed for a 68 and the pair returned to the 18th tee for the play-off.

Venter opted left off the tee and Van Niekerk leaked his drive right, but both players finished just short of green. Venter chipped to 10 feet while Van Niekerk’s ball pitched two feet closer to the pin at the front of the green.

However, this time Venter made sure to find the centre of the cup, putting pressure on Van Niekerk. The North West player was unable to steer his attempt in the hole to extend the play-off, allowing the reigning Africa Amateur Stroke Play champion to add another trophy to his mantle this season.

Venter leads the 32-strong field for the Match Play title and will face Ruben van Zyl from Parow Golf Club in round one, while Van Niekerk goes up against Adam Botha from Durbanville Golf Club.

Aubrey Beckley and Neswill Croy, who tied for third on 277, will play Jason Smith from Gauteng and Paul Colditz from Milnerton Golf Club respectively.

276 Albert Venter 63 69 70 74 (won 1st play-off hole)
276 Danie van Niekerk 65 72 71 68
277 Aubrey Beckley 73 70 66 68; Neswill Croy 68 70 69 70
278 Jovan Rebula 70 70 66 72; Darin de Smidt 69 72 65 72
279 Andre Nel 70 70 71 68; Gerlou Roux 66 72 73 68; Noel Anderson 74 66 69 70; Marco Steyn 69 69 66 75
280 Louis Albertse 71 68 72 69
281 Kyle McClatchie 66 73 70 72
282 Tristen Strydom 75 72 69 66; Angus Ellis-Cole 70 72 73 67; Matt Saulez 75 69 69 69; David Mcintyre 71 72 70 69; Philip Kruse 73 70 76 69; Herman Loubser 71 71 70 70
283 Luca Filippi 72 70 72 69; Michael Sherriff 71 72 70 70

PHOTO – 2016 Western Province Stroke Play champion Albert Venter; credit Barry Havenga/Golf Digest