26 February 2023 – France’s Martin Couvra achieved an historic treble when the South African Amateur Championships wrapped up at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate on Friday.
For a stretch of 234 holes, over nine days, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, 19-year-old Couvra was simply unstoppable, winning the 72-hole South African Stroke Play Championship, the 36-hole Proudfoot Trophy and the SA Amateur match play to become the first player to win all three events in full regulation play in the same calendar year.
Couvra denied South Africa’s Kyle de Beer the chance to become only the third player since 1925 to defend the prestigious SA Amateur title when he edged the GolfRSA National Squad member 3 & 2 in the 36-hole final at The Woods Course.
On his way to the final, the No 1-seed knocked out Namibian Todd Parker 6 & 5, Clinton Duncan from Royal Johannesburg & Kensington 3 & 2 and Welshman Matt Roberts 1-up.
He downed Conner MacKenzie from Randpark 3 & 2 to advance to the top eight and beat 2022 Nomads SA Boys U-17 champion Janko van der Merwe 3 & 2 to reach his first SA Amateur final.
De Beer comfortably won the first round 5 & 3 but needed five extra holes to get past South African Golf Development Board member Lyle Pedro in the second. The Eastern Province player reached the semi-finals with strong performances against 2014 finalist Altin van der Merwe (3 & 2) and Filip Sakota (5 & 4), and he reached his second successive final when he defeated reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matthew McClean 2 & 1.
“Kyle is a really good player,” Couvra said after the victory. “I played with him in the Stroke Play and he doesn’t make many mistakes. He played really well. I don’t think he missed a shot out there, so I’m pleased to have been able to beat him in what was a tough match.
The Frenchman got off to a shaky start against De Beer and trailed for 15 holes before a pair of bogeys by the defending champion saw Couvra turn with a 1-up lead. The pair were all square again after 22 holes before the Cannes golfer found an extra gear.
He birdied the 23rd and 24th and when De Beer bogeyed the par-three 27th hole he was in total command of the final. Another birdie at the 32nd hole took him to 4-up with four holes to play.
Although De Beer bravely made a birdie to win the 33rd, a pair of pars on the 34th cemented Couvra’s place in history.
“It’s incredible to win three events in South Africa,” said Couvra. “It feels good to make history. I’m feeling pretty tired right now, but I am really happy for the win.”
All week, Couvra has been in great form with his putting, but he credited his accuracy with his driver for the win in the final.
“I was good off the tee today, but my chipping and putting were not as good as they have been all week. I guess that is golf for you. My family came out to watch me for the match play and it was great to have them out here. Now we are going to make a family holiday in La Lucia.”
The win sees Couvra claim a spot in this year’s South African Open.
“I played my first DP World Tour event last year, the Open de France, and it was a fantastic experience. I am very excited to come back to South Africa to play in the South African Open. It’s going to be incredible. There is always a strong field in this tournament.”