26 October 2022 – The National Final of the GolfRSA Champion of Champions, delivered by The Courier Guy, came to an exciting conclusion at Kyalami Country Club, with the A Divisions of the men’s and women’s events needing to go to playoffs to determine the winners.
The GolfRSA flagship tournament seeks to find the country’s ultimate club champions across multiple divisions, and this year included a Caddie Division for the very first time.
For the first time in the history of the event, there was a three-way playoff for the men’s title, with Humewood’s JP van der Watt, Sandy Lane’s Andrew Hagemann and first-round leader Matthew Cooper from Clovelly all finishing the 36-hole event on +3.
Ultimately it was Van der Watt who prevailed and was crowned the 2022 GolfRSA Club Champion of Champions after a tense two-hole play-off.
“I didn’t expect this at the beginning of the week, but it feels great to be the Champion of Champions,” said van der Watt. “It’s such a unique tournament. It’s fun and the atmosphere is light, but it is still very competitive because we all wanted to win.
“For a lot of players, an event like this is the highlight of their golfing careers. A 22-handicapper doesn’t really get to play in tournaments set up like this.”
New tournament sponsors The Courier Guy got further bang for their investment into amateur golf when the women’s A-Division final also went to extra holes, with former No 1-ranked junior Sam Whateley matching reigning South African Mid-Amateur champion Vicki Traut’s 36-hole scores of 75 and 74.
The pair then set off for a deciding playoff and it was the experienced Traut who secured victory, adding some more precious silverware to her collection.
“I have really enjoyed the camaraderie this week – it has been a blast,” the 41-year-old Erinvale Club Champion said. “I was blown away by the growth of this event since I last played five years ago.
“There are far more divisions, and I was thrilled to see the higher handicapped players and the caddies also get to share in this incredible opportunity. Thank you to all involved. We couldn’t stop talking about the extraordinary lengths that was gone through in making this such an awesome experience for everyone involved. Every element of the experience was so well organised, and the course was absolutely brilliant!”
No upsets in the two B-Division events, which were settled in regulation play.
Pretoria Country Club’s Stevan Swarts carded rounds of 74 and 82, which was good enough for a six-shot victory over Erik Holtzhausen from Euphoria’s by six shots.
“When I won my club championship, I thought that would be the highlight of my career. I couldn’t believe it when I won the regional to make the national final and now I’m going home to tell my family that I’m national champion,” Swart gushed.
“I came here with no expectations and had the time of my life. I’m beyond words.”
In the women’s competition, Queenstown’s Sanet Pieterse claimed a four-shot victory over Akasia’s Marinda van der Werff. “What a win,” exclaimed Pieterse.
“I’m speechless. The first thing I thought was that I’ll have to win again next year, so can come back. I was so thrilled a week ago when I helped Border to win the B-Section of the SA Women’s Inter-Provincial and now this.
“Definitely the two highlights of my season. Thank you to everyone involved for an incredible week.”
Gonaseelan “Gator” Reddy made a great start in the men’s Stableford competition with an opening a round of 37, but the Royal Durban golfer was put under pressure by a surging Owen Putzier from Alexandria Golf Club in the final round.
“Owen was playing some great golf and shot 37, but a 34 got the job the done,” said Reddy after winning by two shots.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the event, the high standard of golf and the incredible effort that went into organising it. Well done GolfRSA and Paul Adams and his team – great effort.”
And the women’s division also served up a debutant champion!
Mariette Munro Smit from Bluff National Park fired successive rounds of 35 in her first appearance to edge Polokwane Golf Club newcomer Mash Makena by two points for the women’s title.
“The tournament exceeded all my expectations, including me winning the C-Division. I just wanted to come out here, have fun, meet new people and give it my best shot.
“I am absolutely delighted with the outcome. It’s been an awesome week and I really hope I can do it again.”
The new Caddie Division saw 12 caddies from the country battling for the bragging rights of becoming the country’s first GolfRSA Club Caddie Champion of Champions.
Thabiso Dijo from Bryanston Country Club claimed the honour
“I didn’t play my best golf this week, but I lived to be the winner,” said Dijo, whose rounds of 78 and 76 earned him a nine-shot victory over Sydney James from De Zalze Golf Club.
“I have to admit that I got a little bit frustrated on the front nine in the final round, but I told myself to stay patient, and it paid off. I’m just happy to be crowned the winner. It’s really special to be the first winner of the Caddie Champion of Champions.
“This has been a really great experience and we thank GolfRSA for this opportunity. I hope I can make it back to defend my title next year, but even more I hope that my win, and the great golf from all the caddies who played this year will inspire more caddies to try out in 2023.”
RESULTS MEN A (top 10)
147 JP van der Watt 72 75 (play-off win)
147 Matt Cooper 68 79
149 Gareth Matthysen 76 73
150 Tertius van den Berg 74 76
151 Bertie Steenkamp 79 72
152 Travis Welsh 76 76
154 Vincent Olley 76 78
158 Ben Jonas 84 74; Gustav de Lange 81 77; Paul Baatjies 78 80
RESULTS LADIES A (top 10)
149 Vicki Traut 75 74 (play-off win)
149 Samantha Whateley 75 74
158 Demi Flanagan 84 74; Bronwyn Doeg 81 77
160 Olivia Wood 79 81
165 Mandie Badenhorst 83 82
171 Kim Boshoff 91 80
178 Rose Mokoena 86 92
181 Rowena-Anne Alexander 94 87
190 Mikah Poonawassy 90 100
RESULTS MEN B (top 5)
156 Stevan Swarts 74 82
162 Erik Holtzhausen 83 79
166 Mike Fick 85 81; Willem Du Toit 81 85
171 Marais Kruger 84 87
RESULTS LADIES B (top 5)171 Sanet Pieterse 88 83
175 Marinda van der Werff 87 88
176 Leigh Rose 94 82
179 Karen Stanz 88 91
182 Patrizia Lombard 90 92
RESULTS MEN C (top 5)
71 Gator Reddy 37 34
69 Owen Putzier 30 39
66 Martin Van der Merwe 35 31
64 Phillip Myburgh 38 26
63 Raymond Barrington 29 34
RESULTS LADIES C (top 5)
70 Mariette Smit 35 35
68 Mashianoke Makena 35 33
64 Helena Pienaar 28 36
60 Olga Zorgman 27 33
58 Sandra Nel 28 30; Herine Van der Merwe 29 29; Luanda Van der Walt 31 27; Susan Esterhuyse 33 25
RESULTS CADDIES (top 5)
154 Thabiso Dijo 78 76
163 Sydney James 86 77
164 Ivor Hartzenberg 82 82
166 Thomas Masetle 83 83
174 Patrick Bruno Maubane 83 91