Amateur trio set to give chase at BMW SA Open

KwaZulu-Natal amateur Matt Saulez dropped only two shots in rounds of 69 and 70 to tie for 14th on five-under 139 in the BMW SA Open, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni; credit Ernest Blignault.

In December 2009, two-time European Tour champion Dylan Frittelli edged out JG Claassen and Ryan Dreyer for the Freddie Tait Trophy as the leading amateur at Pearl Valley. That marked the last time that three amateurs made the cut in the SA Open.

On Friday, three of the GolfRSA National Squad’s most promising talents broke the drought and fought their way into the weekend line-up in the BMW SA Open, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, at Glendower Golf Club.

Kyle McClatchie posted rounds of 68 and 71 and Matt Saulez shot 69 and 70 to tie for 14th on five-under-par 139. The pair will start the final round eight shots behind joint leaders Chris Paisley from England and Frenchman Adrien Saddier.

Garrick Higgo carded rounds of 68 and 73 to grab a share of 25th.

McClatchie was thrilled when he emulated Charl Schwartzel on his 20th birthday in May last year with victory in the English Mens Amateur Stroke Play (Brabazon Trophy) and on Saturday, the Ekurhuleni golfer will tick another box when he tees it up with the former Masters champion.

“When I was waiting to play out of the bunker at 18, I looked at the leaderboard on the big screen and I saw my name was under Charl’s,” he said. “Charl has been my hero since he turned pro and all I could think about was that if I made par, I might play with him.

“I hit the trap shot exactly where I aimed below the hole and I boxed the putt. The whole experience so far has been amazing, but playing with Charl will be the icing on the cake.”

Higgo started with three successive bogeys and dropped three more shots, but the 17-year-old just kept grinding. The country’s number one ranked amateur birdied seven and eight and parred the ninth to move to three-under 141. Higgo will have seasoned European Tour campaigner Richard Bland for company in round three.

“I had three soft bogeys at the start of the round, then I birdied four, bogeyed five and birdied six; I only made my first par at the seventh hole. I knew the putts would drop if I stayed patient, but it was a tough day. The birdie the fifth got me under the cut-line and gave me some momentum, but I only relaxed after the final putt. I can’t wait to tee it up on Saturday. This is a dream come true.”

Saulez was riding a wave of confidence ahead of the weekend action at Glendower.

The KwaZulu-Natal golfer tied for third in the Irene Country Club qualifier on Tuesday and beat last year’s Freddie Tait Trophy winner Cameron Moralee for the final spot in the field.

“From not knowing if I would make it to making the weekend is pretty awesome,” said Saulez, who ranks fourth in the country. “It is what I hoped to achieve, but it does feel a little unreal.”
The 20-year-old Durban Country Club golfer only had two bogeys in 36 holes. He believes good ball striking earned him a tee time with Jorge Campillo from Spain.

“My ball striking and iron-play has been really solid. I’ve kept out of trouble and I barely missed a fairway or green. I didn’t realise it at the time, but all the international experience I gain this year with the GolfRSA National Squad trip to the United Kingdom, playing in the United States and in Argentina, really prepared me well for this week. I feel very calm and relaxed. Hopefully the putter warms up so a few more putts drop on the weekend.

The other four amateurs in the field all received their marching orders when the cut was set at even-par 144.

Southern Cape amateurs Christo Lamprecht and Jovan Rebula missed by one and two shots respectively. Lamprecht shot 73, 72 and Rebula returned successive rounds of 73. Malcolm Mitchell from KwaZulu-Natal improved seven shots on his first round 77 and Rustenburg’s Louis Albertse signed off with rounds of 75 and 78.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.