Golf RSA’s Naidoo clinches Big Easy victory

Golf RSA National Squad member Dylan Naidoo became the first amateur and youngest winner of a Sunshine Big Easy Tour event when he lifted the Big Easy Observatory title with a two stroke victory on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Modderfontein golfer upstaged a field of 109 professionals with rounds of 64 and 69 to triumph on 11-under-par 133.

Having made his mark on the local and international amateur circuit, the two-time Nomads SA Boys Stroke Play champion was thrilled to test his game at the next level and come out smiling.

“I’m really excited about how I managed to win this tournament,” Naidoo told Sunshine Tour press officer Vincent Schaffler. “I played really well and to get my first professional win is something I’m really excited about.”

Naidoo showed the grit, determination and incredible talent of a future world-beater when he made his debut in the 2015 Joburg Open and narrowly missed the cut.

It was this experience that strengthened his resolve to pursue a career in golf and subsequent starts on the Big Easy Tour, the 2016 Joburg Open and several international amateur championships only served to inspire him further.

“I am really indebted to Bongi Mokaba from the City of Joburg, who opened the door for me to compete in the Joburg Open last year,” said the HPC Tuks Golf Academy player.

“That first taste of the pro circuit and my performance over the two rounds at Royal Johannesburg is the reason that I put all my energy into golf. People like Bongi, SAGA, Central Gauteng Golf Union and the Sunshine Tour have given me opportunities to test myself on golf’s biggest stages and it spurs me on to keep improving.”

Naidoo played alongside seasoned pro Jeff Inglis and third-season campaigner Eddie Taylor in the final round at Observatory Golf Club. The teenager offset two bogeys with five birdies to finish two shots clear of Sunshine Tour rookie Jason Viljoen.

“It was an experience that I will treasure. It really gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can compete against these players. I mean these guys are the future professionals on the Sunshine Tour, and there are other guys like Jeff Inglis, who are on the Sunshine Tour.

“To go down the stretch with guys that have been on tour. Jeff was telling me just now that he’s been on tour for 14 years; I was four years old when he went on tour. It’s a really nice experience having guys like that support me and play against me in the tough circumstances and I really enjoy it.”

Naidoo will take this confidence to South Carolina in July where he will compete in the Players Amateur and the Southern Amateur before he starts the next phase of his career at the University of Arkansas.

“I think it’s each to his own with regards to how you perform in college,” Naidoo said. “I think it has a lot to do with how you communicate with your support base back home and the college coach you have over there. The university that I have is one that I’ve thoroughly researched and it’s one that I’m excited about.

“Long term, it’s still a while until I’ll be turning pro. I feel like I’ve got a lot of developing to do – physically and with my game – I think long term there are still quite a way for me to go.”

Thanda Mavundla took sole third on 136 with a 69, while former top ranked junior Hennie du Plessis closed with a 68 to share fourth at 137 with Inglis (72) and Mark Murless (67).

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association. With thanks to Vincent Schaffler from the Sunshine Tour for the Dylan Naidoo quotes and trophy photo.

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