Brilliant Bhana banks Gowrie SA U-15 win
A strategic move on the final hole at Gowrie Farm Golf Estate paid off handsomely for Amilkar Bhana, who defeated Carl Mwale and Jordon Duminy for the Gowrie SA U-15 Challenge title on Wednesday.
Bhana – who won the Individual Competition at the Nomads SA Boys U-13 Championship in October last year – triumphed by one shot on even-par 213 after he two-putted the last for an even-par 70.
The 12-year-old Country Club Johannesburg golfer opened with a 71 and birdied the last two holes in the second round for a 70 that saw him start the final round one shot behind fellow Central Gauteng junior Mwale and one stroke ahead of Duminy from Southern Cape.
By the time the trio reached 18, Bhana was tied for the lead with Mwale and Duminy was two behind.
Bhana and Duminy both took the safe route and laid up and the duo cash in on their prudent decisions after Mwale propelled his second shot into the water protecting the 18th green.
“We all had about 220 metres to the pin,” Bhana said. “Carl is a very long hitter and he went for the green, but he came up short in the water and had to reload. Jordan and I both laid up. I hit my third to four metres and lagged the first putt to about 10 centimetres and holed it for par and Jordan boxed his first putt for birdie.”
South African Golf Development Board member Mwale completed his round with a bogey at 18 for a 73 to tie last year’s runner-up Duminy from the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Academy, whose closing birdie netted him a final round 71.
Bhana said the victory came as a huge surprise.
“I’m really happy to put my name on the trophy in my first Nomads SA Boys U-15,” he gushed. “My parents and I decided I would play to gain experience, but I never expected to be in the running and I guess we are all a little stunned that I won.
“It was so windy and I don’t have much experience in the wind, so my expectations were low. I just played my own game and tried to learn as much as possible. I still can’t believe that I won.”
Bhana bogeyed five and 10, but birdies at 11 and 14 kept him in touch with Mwale and Duminy.
The overnight leader countered two bogeys and a double at nine with a birdie at seven and trio of gains at 11, 12 and 13 before he dropped 17 to move to level. Duminy mixed five birdies with four drops and a double bogey to reach the 18th on two over.
“After the bogeys I made a great birdie at 11,” Bhana said. “The wind was left to right and I hit a full 7-iron to a metre from the pin and holed the putt. The 14th was the toughest hole of the day, playing into the wind. I hit driver, 3-wood and a soft pitching wedge and holed the putt for birdie. That got me back to level par and one shot behind Carl.
“When he bogeyed 17 I still didn’t think about winning. It was only when he hit in water at 18 that I thought we might have a play-off. I’ve had such an awesome week and I learned so much. I just want to thank my parents for giving me the chance to play this week and Mr Ewen, my principal at Crawford, and Andy Truluck and Hardus van der Merwe at Central Gauteng Golf Union for always giving me such amazing support. This was an incredible week and I really had the best time. And a big thanks to my friends who came to fetch me for a game of golf afterwards to celebrate my win.”
Bhana’s father, Vijay, said his son’s victory surprised everyone except the range manager.
“While Amilkar was warming up for the final round, Jabulani who looks after the range walked over and told me he has a side bet with the greenkeeper on the winner,” Bhana Snr said. “He said he watched Amilkar and backed him to win because of his ball-striking. My wife and I were proud as punch at how well he held up against the big dogs, but not even we thought he would win. We are very proud parents, but I hope Jabulane made a nice bit of cash on his horse.”
Gauteng North’s Christiaan Maas carded a 71 to finish in fourth on two over, while defending champion Casey Jarvis from Ekurhuleni shared fifth on five over 218 with Central Gauteng’s Emerson Bam after the pair closed with respective rounds of 74 and 73.
213 Amilkar Bhana 72 70 71
214 Jordan Duminy 70 73 71; Carl Mwale 70 71 73
215 Christiaan Maas 73 71 71
218 Emerson Bam 72 73 73; Casey Jarvis 69 75 74
222 Damian Osner 74 76 72
224 Luka Stanisavljevic 80 72 72; Joshua Koekemoer 77 73 74; Nash de Klerk 70 78 76
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.