Favourites falter but Stone steady at Sanlam SA Amateur

As the battle for the country’s most prestigious amateur title heated up, South African Stroke Play champion Haydn Porteous and top English amateur Toby Tree were among the early departures at the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship at Mowbray Golf Club on Wednesday.

Unheralded Harrismith golfer Louis Taylor thwarted Porteous’s bid to win the elusive double – the Match Play and Stroke Play titles in a calendar year – with a 1-up result before he dispatched JP Strydom at the 19th. The Central Gauteng golfer will face Brian Soutar in the quarterfinal and expects the Scotsman to come out firing on all cylinders.

“I would be surprised if this match has an early result,” said Taylor. “For one, he is the last man standing from the seven-man Scottish Golf Union Men’s Squad. He came through the first and second rounds with huge winning margins.

“As the championship progresses, the matches get tougher but he has only dropped seven shots this week and five of those happened in the first round of the qualifier. He doesn’t make mistakes and he will bring his A-game, no doubt.”

Tree dropped a 7 & 5 bomb on Southern Cape’s Breyten Meyer, but compatriot Jamie Clare got the better of him, beating the English Boys Squad player at the 18th in round three. He next appointment is with Limpopo’s CJ du Plessis, who got past 15-year-old Tristen Strydom from Gauteng North in 3 & 2 before he eliminated Boland’s Drikus Bruyns at the 19th hole.

Meanwhile the country’s leading amateur Brandon Stone kept his title hopes alive.

Stone had to battle a blustery South-Easterly wind, a streaky putter and a ruthless opponent in Pedrie Oosthuizen before he claimed success at the 20th hole but scored a confident 4 & 3 victory over 2011 finalist Paul Shields of Scotland to advance to the quarterfinal.

“Pedrie and I both played the last year’s Inter-Provincial for Gauteng North,” said Stone. “I expected a tough match, but it was a marathon. We both hit some great shots and the lead changed a lot. I had the lead coming down the closing stretch but he holed some long putts to hit back.

“I was finally able to knock in the winning put at the second extra hole. I didn’t play as well against Paul, but I kept myself out of trouble and I got the result.”

The 18-year-old will face Michael Loppnow in the quarter-final. The Milnerton amateur beat Robert Bougas 5 & 4, defeated Callum Mowat by one and Gert Myburgh 2 & 1 on his way to the quarters.

Stone said losing in the second round last year, taught him a valuable lesson.

“In this format you can’t think ahead, so the final is not on my mind. I’m only focussed in the present and my mind is on my next match. Michael has also had some great results so far and I expect a tough battle that will probably go the distance.”

And the local fans also has reason to celebrate after Mowbray golfer Drew Denyer claimed to solid scalps.

The 22-year-old reigning Mowbray Open champion relied on local knowledge and a hot putter to send South Africa’s number four ranked Zander Lombard packing with a comprehensive 7 & 6 hiding and whipped Scotsman Daniel Kay into submission with a 3 & 2 win.

“I had to qualify to qualify and to have come this far in the championship already is incredible,” said Denyer. “My game plan has been to play steady golf, to limit my mistakes and to use my knowledge of the course to strategise. So far, so good but there is still an awful lot of golf to play. No point in getting too excited yet.”

The Western Province golfer faces Shaun Smith in the quarter-final.

The Fancourt amateur missed three months last year due to a broken wrist, but has played his way back into the top 10 and has been in blistering form this week. Although he took 18 holes to dismiss NJ Arnoldi in the first round, he beat Philip Kruse 4 & 3 and knocked out Terence Boardman 5 & 3.

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