Harvey leads strong charge for SA Amateur title

With a major win under his belt, KwaZulu-Natal’s Jared Harvey is one of the favourites amongst the 144 golfers competing in the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship at Vaal de Grace Golf Estate next week.

Harvey, the recent winner of the South African Amateur Stroke Play, ranks fifth on the South African Golf Association’s rankings and heads into the premier event on the local amateur calendar with a further two top-10 finishes in his four starts this season.

The 22-year-old will be keen to improve on his performance last year after being beaten 2 and 1 in the first round Allan Versfeld, who went on to lose to Englishman Laurie Canter in the final.

But the field is laced with a host of worthy challengers, and the most pressure will likely rest on the shoulders of Gauteng North amateur Brandon Stone.

The 17-year-old moved to the number one spot on the rankings following Danie van Tonder’s decision to turn professional last week.

Making his debut in the SA Amateur, Stone will be keen to build on a strong performance this year. He won the season-opening Prince’s Grant Invitational in January, came fourth at the Gauteng North Open and overcame a sluggish start to tie for a credible fifth at the SA Stroke Play.

Number two Ruan de Smidt from Krugersdorp failed to qualify last year but three top-10s in five starts this season, including a runner-up finish in the KZN Open, makes him a serious contender.

Daniel Hammond, following his victory in the Free State/Northern Cape Open last week, will also have high expectations as he seeks to get past the second round this year.

Of the other contenders for the match play title, Haydn Porteous, Hendre Cilliers, 2009 SA Amateur winner Ryan Dreyer and Jaco Mouton, who notched up his first win at the Gauteng North Open, all pose a serious threat.

Solid performances by Scotland’s David Law, Scott Gibson and Kris Nicol at the SA Stroke Play suggest they could provide an upset at Vaal de Grace.

Law, the former Scottish Boys and Junior Champion, pushed Harvey all the way on the final day, while Gibson tied for fifth. Lytham Trophy runner-up Nicol tied for eighth.

And Scottish Amateur champion Michael Stewart will be looking to go one better than his top 20 finish at Mount Edgecombe.

Following the 36-hole stroke play section on Sunday 27 and Monday 28 February, the top 64 players will progress to the match play stage, which concludes with a 36-hole final on Friday, 4 March.

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