Foreigners freeze out local attack at SA Open
You have to look all the way to sixth place to find Herman van Wyk’s name after the foreign challengers – led by American Chad Pfeifer – took command in the second round of the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open at Zwartkop Country Club on Tuesday.
Former US Army corporal Pfeifer went on a tear and blazed the course with nine birdies, but the leg-amputee from Texas gave back almost as many as he closed out a two-under-par 69 for a one stroke lead from former champion Josh Williams from Canada on one under 141.
Williams fired a 68 to take the low round honours, while Spanish sensation Juan Postigo returned a 70 to move to third on three over 145.
Dominican Republic star Manuel de los Santos posted a 74 to move to fourth on 150 and Martin Williams from the United Kingdom returned a successive 77 to finish in fifth on 155.
Van Wyk, who finished on 156, was upbeat and positive about his first experience in SADGA’s flagship event and his sense of humour was definitely still alive and kicking, despite carding an 81.
“Listen, it’s never over till the fat lady sings,” said the 49-year-old leg amputee.
“The weather was great and you could attack all the pins and the foreigners took advantage of the conditions. Tomorrow it could be really cold, the pins could be tucked and they could have us playing off the tips. This is golf and everything could change. If the foreigners go a couple over and I shoot 11 under, I could still win this thing.
“Seriously, though, I am loving this experience. It’s a fantastic experience playing against guys of this calibre. I played with Juan and he didn’t say much of anything that I could understand. I just stuck to good shot, well done, but after lunch, he loosened up and we chatted all the way home.
“Juan doesn’t use a prosthetic and he hits the ball just like Seve Ballesteros. The kid is just 20, but he is absolutely fearless. Those two guys in front better watch out.”
Postigo was clear about his intentions for the final round.
“I hit some shots at the driving range and putted after the round and I had a much better feel for the course and put together a much better round,” said the Dutch and Spanish Disabled Open champion.
“I am having a great tournament. The weather is fantastic and the hospitality I am having here is incredible. The championship has a real tournament feel, which is something which we still have to get right in Europe. Tomorrow I am going for every flag. All or nothing – 61 or 81 – I don’t mind.”
Pfeifer was understandably miffed that he lost seven shots in an incredible round, but the double US National Amputee is looking forward to a great fight in the final round.
“I got unlucky on some holes, made mistakes on others, but I take a lot of confidence out of those nine birdies,” Pfeifer said. “Josh is going to be a tough opponent to beat, and Juan is looking better and better. You can never underestimate Manuel, either. I just need to keep the mistakes to a minimum. It’s there for the one who wants it the most and I want it; I definitely want to win.”
Williams was delighted to have another stab at the title he won at Zebula in 2014.
“It was really tough playing against a guy who was throwing darts at every hole, but I am really happy that I managed to stay in touch,” said leg-amputee Williams.
“I think the final round is going to be a great contest and I hope the youngsters finish early so they can come out and follow the action. I know the South Africans fans will be disappointed not to have someone in the final three, but this is good for South Africa on two levels.
“It sends a message out there that SADGA runs one of the best national championships in the world and we need more of these to lift the standard of the sport and to get more people playing. And it sets the bar a little higher for guys like Daniel (Slabbert) and Reinard (Schuhknecht). It will get them fired up and hungry again and that’s great for South African golf.”
Meanwhile 19-year-old Charl Theron shot a second round 81 to overtake Schuhknecht in the overall standings. Theron, a member of SADGA’s First Swing Programme (FSP), suffers from Arthrogryposis, an incurable congenital joint disease, and competes in the Les Autres Division.
Fellow FSP player Charles Williams carded 78 to take the lead in the Deaf Division, while Garrett Slattery retained the lead in the Visually Impaired Division with rounds of 95 and 93.
Flip Brink leads ISP Handicaps 19-36 Division with 79 points. FSP players Enrique van Wyk and Jabu Price Moore respectively second and third on 72 and 71 points.
Ralph Cullinan leads the Wheelchair Division by eight points from Mathys Roets.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Disabled Golf Association.