Hendrikse produces magic to win at Bryanston
South Africa’s top ranked senior Mellette Hendrikse rambled to another play-off victory over Lawrence Franklin in the Central Gauteng Golf Union’s Senior Open to claim his second win of the season on Sunday.
The 54-year-old Akasia player was slow off the mark with an opening 75 and lagged four strokes behind Franklin, but he hauled himself into contention with a solid final round 73 to tie the first round pacesetter for the lead on four-over-par 148 in regulation play.
Par at the first extra hole was enough to secure the victory for Hendrikse, who won the Gauteng North Senior Open in similar fashion last month.
While the victory at Bryanston Golf Club also took the sting out of a recent runner-up finish in the Players Championship, the win lifted Hendrikse to an all-time high point’s record in the South African Golf Association’s Senior Rankings.
Hendrikse vaulted to 97.10 points and broke the previous record of 94.25, set by Francois le Roux from De Zalze in 2013.
“This is a really nice way to start the season, because I have to admit that I feel the pressure out there,” said the reigning Indwe Risk Services SA Senior Amateur Stroke Play champion.
“I won six times last season, so I have a lot of points to protect this year. I need to pick up victories in events where I am not defending, to earn the points I need to protect my ranking. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.”
Hendrikse said he is striking the ball very well and putting it close, but he struggled with a balky putter.
“The greens at Bryanston Golf Club were hollow-timed a few weeks ago and they were still a little fluffy,” he said.
“The putter wasn’t very cooperative and I struggled with the pace, but I managed to catch up to Lawrence through 16 holes and we were a stroke behind Ben Kleynhans, who had taken the lead by this stage in the final round.”
When Kleynhans three-putted the 17th, Franklin and Hendrikse pounced on the opportunity to draw level.
Franklin holed his putt for par, while Hendrikse boxed a short one for birdie and the trio set off down the final hole in a three-way tie for the lead.
“Ben had another three putt for bogey, but Franklin and I both made par to force the tournament into extra time,” explained Hendrikse.
“In the ensuing play-off, I hit it to 10 feet and Lawrence was about 15 foot from the hole. Lawrence hit his first putt three foot past the hole.
“I had been very tentative with the putter all day, so I didn’t want to take any chances and I just lagged it close. Lawrence missed the return and all I had to do was box the putt for victory.”
The country’s senior campaigners will take full advantage of Hendrikse’s absence later this month when the circuit travels to the Cape Province for the Boland Senior and Western Province Senior Opens.
“I have to attend meetings at the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship and won’t be able to compete in the next two events,” Hendrikse said.
“It’s unfortunate, but it does give guys like Morgan Philips, who recently won the Players Championship, the chance to challenge and catch up and that’s what makes life on the senior circuit so exciting.”
RESULT (top 10)
148 *Mellette Hendrikse 75 73 (*play-off victory at 1st extra hole)
148 Lawrence Franklin 71 77
149 Ben Kleynhans 76 73
152 Schalk Naude 77 75
153 Gavin Light 80 73; Jock Wellington 78 75; Steven Doeg 77 76; Basil Naidoo 77 76; Jerome Benting 77 76; Alan Fraser 76 77
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.