Freddie Tait winner humbled by SA Open experience

Louis Taylor – the lone surviving amateur after the cut for the 103rd South African Open Championship was made – says he lived through a career-defining experience this week.

On Sunday, he wrapped up his SA Open campaign with an uncharacteristic 78, and this fourth-round score marked the only time that the Glendower Course got the better of him this week. In the earlier rounds, Taylor carded 71, 70 and 70.

But it wasn’t only the revamped Glendower Course that got to Taylor on Sunday. He was also overcome by the sense of the occasion.

Taylor’s SA Open debut was his first tournament experience on the international stage and this week’s field included 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen, 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, 2001 Open champion David Duval and many more seasoned European and Sunshine Tour champions.

Five bogeys, two of them doubles, a lone birdie and 12 pars made up his final round scorecard and it’s one that Taylor wants to forget in a hurry.

“I just felt depleted today,” the 22-year-old Harrismith golfer summed up his effort. “Some might say I felt pressure today, but I wouldn’t say so. I just didn’t feel myself today.

“For some reason I just felt short of energy. It’s been quite a long week and I wonder if that had something to do with it. It was strange, because I wasn’t playing against the other amateurs and I wasn’t in contention for the title.

“After the 30 on the front nine in the third round, I was pumped up and the adrenalin was flowing. I suppose when I followed up on the back nine, it just drained my energy.”
The Gary Player School of Champions graduate might be disappointed with his finish, but very grateful for the opportunity to compete in the world’s second oldest national Open.

“I am so grateful that the South African Golf Association gave me the chance to tee it up in a tournament of this stature,” Taylor said.

“I came here this week to see how things are run out here at event like the SA Open. It was my first proper pro tournament and I wanted see how the pros play and at the same time just try to play my own game. I stuck to my routine and did things the way I wanted to, although I’m obviously not happy with the end result.

“After playing the SA Open, I know now this is a big step from amateur level. You can see it in every aspect and the organisation is just so professional. I’m glad that I’ve experienced it, seen it and got a glimpse of what is to come. It’s been fun to out here with all the great golfers.”

Despite his wayward play on Sunday, the proudest people at Glendower was Taylor’s Harrismith-based parents.

The Taylors were ringside in the packed 18th hole gallery when Taylor was presented with the Freddie Tait Trophy by SAGA president, Andre Pieterse – another Free State native – as the leading amateur in the 103rd South African Open Championship.

“It’s amazing to know that your name is going to be on this trophy forever, especially when you see the names of the previous winners,” gushed Taylor. “Denis Hutchinson, Dale Hayes, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman…they have all gone on to do amazing things. I just hope I can live up to the billing.”

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