Dill chips his way into 104th SA Open
Andi Dill’s face lit up like a Christmas tree when his 20-meter chip shot pitched a foot before the pin and rolled straight into the hole at the par-four 11th at Zwartkop Country Club on Wednesday.
The birdie was precisely what the 26-year-old Royal Johannesburg & Kensington amateur needed to seal a place in the field for the 104th South African Open Championship.
Having fired a flawless four-under-par 67 at the third qualifying venue, the diminutive Dill found himself a five-way play-off for two spots on Monday alongside professionals Pieter Moolman and TJ Bekker and amateurs Tom Watson and Luke Trocado.
However, the quintet no sooner set off after their tee shots at the 10th when organisers called off play due to dangerous conditions.
“I hit my tee shot into the left rough at the 10th and I spent a sleepless night worrying about my second shot, because I knew I would need something special to stay alive in the play-off,” Dill said.
“I hacked out short of the green, chipped it four feet past the hole and drained the putt. Bekker made bogey, so we were down to four going to 11.
“This time I hit it straight down the middle. We were playing straight into the sun and three of us left it short, while Tom landed in the bunker. Tom and Luke got on the green, but they were pretty far from the hole, but Pieter hit it really close’
“I was playing last, and I knew I had one chance. I told myself “You just have to chip this in, Andi, and you’re in the SA Open. I didn’t think about it too much. Just hit it and watched it drop.”
Since winning the IGT Tour’s Race to Q-School at Krugersdorp Golf Club in October, Dill has enjoyed a resurgence that netted him three top 10 finishes on the South African Golf Association’s national circuit and a place on the Central Gauteng team in the premier SA Inter-Provincial.
Not only did he help the side to a superb victory, but Dill tied for fourth in the Individual Standings.
“It’s all been about self-belief and I found it on the back nine at Krugersdorp,” he said.
“I executed every shot I planned to perfection and shot five under on the back nine to win. Your mind set changes when you know you can win. You play with more confidence and that feeds your game.”
Dill is relishing his debut alongside Tristen Strydom, Jason Smith, Gerlou Roux, Hendrikus Stoop and fellow Central Gauteng amateur, Matthew Spacey, in the starting line-up on Thursday.
“Hendrikus and I are playing with a Spanish guy and that’s really great, because it will take the nerves out of it for both of us,” he said.
“This is a really a dream come true for me. With so many guys competing in the qualifiers, I figured it was a real lottery but it would be good practice for the Sunshine Tour’s Q-School at the end of January.
“It felt really great to arrive here at Glendower as a player, not a spectator. I don’t feel inferior, because I won my place in the field and I deserve to be here.
“I just want to take full advantage of this opportunity and take as much out of this as I can.”
Moolman clinched the final spot in the Zwartkop qualifier and will tee be playing with Alex Haindl from South Africa and Spain’s Nacho Elvira.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.