Lawrence triumphs with eagle in EP
Top South African junior Thriston Lawrence got his preparation for the 103rdSouth African Open Championship underway with a superb victory in the Eastern Province Stroke Play Championship at Port Elizabeth Golf Club on Sunday.
The reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion held off a final round charge from former professional Gerlou Roux and edged out the country’s number three ranked player by one shot for the title with a winning score of 10-under-par 206.
Lawrence lagged two shots behind Sieg Human from Uitenhage and Matthew Spacey from Wanderers after an opening 71, but the 16-year-old overtook the early pacesetters with a five birdie, one bogey 67 to grab a share of the 36-hole lead with Paul Boshoff from Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate.
The leading pair were one shot clear of Bellville’s Roux and two shots ahead from Andrew Light from Mossel Bay going into the final round.
Lawrence momentarily opened the door for Roux with a brace of bogeys at the fifth and sixth holes, but the Nelspruit golfer quickly retaliated with birdie at the seventh and eagle at the eighth to rejoin the battle for supremacy.
Birdies at 10 and 14 put Lawrence in front again, but he gave one back to the course at the 15th and gave Roux some room to move in again. But, after pars at 16 and 17, the Young Turk underlined his growing stature with an eagle at the 18th to deny Roux a play-off chance.
Lawrence split the fairway at the par-five and flew a five-iron from 157 meters into the wind to a foot from the cup.
Meanwhile Roux finished alone in second, one shot ahead of Light and two shots clear of South Africa number two Zander Lombard from Woodhill.
Lawrence won the SA Amateur in February and added three junior Nomads National Order of Merit events to his already impressive tally at Mowbray Golf Club in January, Pollock Park in March and Fancourt in July.
He was thrilled to close out for his first provincial win on the senior national circuit.
“Gerlou is always such a tough opponent and he really pushed me all the way, so it meant a lot to me to win against someone of his calibre,” Lawrence said. “I wanted to try and win at least one event before the SA Open and I am really proud that I could pull it off. It’s given my confidence a real good boost to finish on top against some of the top ranked amateurs in the country.
“I’m going to try for two-in-a-row at the Central Gauteng Open in two weeks, but even if I don’t win, I’ll be happy just to place in the top five before we tee it up at Glendower.”
Lawrence will debut in the South African Golf Association’s national Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club from 21-24 November alongside defending champion Henrik Stenson and fellow amateurs Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Zander Lombard, Louis Taylor and NJ Arnoldi.
TOP 10 LEADERBOARD
206 Thriston Lawrence (Nelspuit) 71-67-68
207 Gerlou Roux (Bellville) 70-69-68
208 Andrew Light (Mossel Bay) 71-69-68
209 Zander Lombard (Woodhill) 70-71-68
211 Teaghan Gauche (The Els Club Copperleaf) 72-71-68; Matthew Spacey (Wanderers) 69-73-69
212 NJ Arnoldi (Serengeti) 77-68-67; Paul Boshoff (Serengeti) 71-67-74
213 Burger Heckroodt (Schoeman Park) 70-72-71
214 Zak van Zyl (Schoeman Park) 76-72-66