Historic win for Williams at SA Senior Champs

South Africa’s number one ranked Steve Williams became the first player in the country’s golfing history to hold both the senior national titles on the amateur and pro circuit concurrently after he closed out a wire-to-wire victory in the 28th Indwe Risk Services SA Senior Stroke Play Championship at Kyalami Country Club on Friday.

Williams outclassed the country’s leading professionals last year to become the first amateur winner of the SA Senior Open, but he had a much tougher time of it to put his hands on the amateur circuit’s flagship trophy.

The 55-year-old Modderfontein golfer not only had to claw his way back into contention, but had to stave off a determined challenge from home favourite Greg Gleeson and Stephen Rossiter from Krugersdorp to capture the title on three-over-par 219.

“This is a pretty special achievement and it means the world to me, especially after the way I had to fight to get the job done,” declared Williams after he edged out Rossiter and Gleeson by one stroke with a hard-fought for final round 74.

“It felt like trying to catch a rabbit. It was tough out there, because the harder I tried, the worse things got. The birdies at 13 and 15 reignited my title bid and I was able to push through for the win.

“After being the bridesmaid at every level in national amateur championships – from junior to mid-amateur – I really, really wanted to win this one. I guess it will take a while to sink in because I’ve wanted this for so long.”

Williams led the first round and shared the lead after the second round with novice Rurik Gobel from Randpark on one-over-par 145. The pair led by two from Rossiter and two-time champion Mellette Hendrikse from Akasia, with Gleeson and Ruimsig’s Stephen Johnston a further stroke adrift.

Williams dropped shots at two and three and Gobel followed a double bogey at two with a bogey at the third, giving the pursuers a gap to turn up the pressure.

“I missed some really makeable birdie putts on the front nine,” Williams said. “After bogeys at six and 11, I felt I let my chances slip. The other guys were struggling, too, but they caught and passed me.”

Williams trailed Hendrikse by two shots through 12 and narrowly missed the chance to take the outright lead at 13.

“I hit driver, six-iron to 25 foot at 13 and had an eagle putt to take the outright lead after Mellette had a double bogey, but the ball lipped out,” he said. “It just hung on the lip of the cup and I felt so robbed, but I got the birdie to get into a four-way tie at four over with Greg, Mellette and Rurik.

“With four holes to play. I suddenly felt like I still had a chance and when I holed the birdie putt at 15 to edge into the lead, I felt the momentum shifting my way.”

Williams over-clubbed at 16, but saved par with a superb up-and-down and a two-putt par at 17 saw him head to the final hole with his one shot lead intact.

“When I heard Greg put it in the water at 18, I knew there was no need for heroics,” he said. “I took a very cautious approach with a three-wood and five-iron down the fairway, chipped it to the middle of the green and two-putted for the win. It was such a great relief to get the job done and to finally lift the trophy at a national championship. That’s another huge box ticked.”

Joint overnight leader Gobel closed with a 76 to finish an impressive debut two off the pace in joint fourth alongside Hendrikse, who posted a 74.

Williams also won the President’s Cup division for players aged 55 and older, while evergreen Jock Wellington celebrated a four stroke victory in the Super Senior division for the 60-plus players.

The three-time champion SA Senior Stroke Play champion and local favourite carded rounds of 75, 81 and 72 to triumph on 12 over 228.

Championship Result (top 20)
219 Steve Williams 70 75 74
220 Stephen Rossiter 75 72 73; Greg P Gleeson 73 75 72
221 Mellette Hendrikse 73 74 74; Rurik Gobel 72 73 76
227 Schalk Naude 76 74 77
228 Jock Wellington 75 81 72; Conrad Rauch 74 79 75
229 Morgan Phillips 75 78 76; Derek Reyneke 74 78 77
230 Lawrence Franklin 75 79 76
232 Adrian Kriel 80 77 75; Christie le Roux 80 75 77; Leonard Pienaar 75 80 77
233 Grant Gardiner 80 77 76; Mark Ian Terrey 77 77 79; Colin Hayward 75 79 79; Stephen Johnston 75 73 85; Richard Bruyns 74 80 79
234 Christian Pienaar 79 80 75; Ivan Palframan 79 75 80; Stephen Marais 77 78 79; Kevin Monk 77 73 84

President’s Cup Division (age 55 and older / top five)
219 Steve Williams 70 75 74
221 Mellette Hendrikse 73 74 74
227 Schalk Naude 76 74 77
228 Jock Wellington 75 81 72
229 Morgan Phillips 75 78 76

Super Senior Division (age 60 and older / top five)
228 Jock Wellington 75 81 72
232 Adrian Kriel 80 77 75
233 Richard Bruyns 74 80 79
234 Ivan Palframan 79 75 80
235 Christo Reyneke 80 75 80

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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