Local boy Harvey grinds his way to SA Stroke Play win
Almost from the time he first hit shots as a three-year-old with father George on the fairways at Mount Edgecombe, Jared Harvey has been a grinder.
A no frills, no entourage guy, Harvey believed that good old fashioned hard work and an unflappable self belief would finally take him to the winner’s circle.
So it came as no surprise to the 22-year-old when he messed up a chance to win the South African Amateur Stroke Play outright and had to grind it out in overtime against Scotland’s David Law to roll in the winning putt and lift the trophy on Friday.
“My card looked like a colouring book,” joked Harvey. “Six birdies, five bogeys, definitely not pretty golf. But at the end it things finally went my way, so I guess there is something to say for hard work.”
Harvey’s workmanlike route around the No 1 course was indeed littered with birdies and bogeys from start to finish.
One behind at the start of the round, Harvey caught up to Law at the fourth but two poor pitch shots led to back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth. To shots back, Law bogeyed the seventh and Harvey holed a bunker shot to close the gap to one.
“I finally got my nose in front when I birdied the 14th and he dropped at the 15th,” said Harvey, who made a solid par at the 16th to stay ahead but nearly lost the advantage again at 17.
“I drove the greenside bunker and Dave pulled off an incredible shot from the fairway bunker,” he said. “He had eight feet for birdie, so I knew I had to up and down. I had to keep the lead going down 18, because that hole has been my Achilles Heel all week.”
Job done, Harvey held a one-shot lead at 15 under par, but he wasted the chance to win it outright when his nerves got in the way. After a reasonable drive up the right, his approach finished just short of the green and he skimmed his approach putt straight through the green, 30ft past the pin. A two-putt bogey left the door wide open for Law, forced the play-off with a tidy par for a round of 72.
“No doubt about it, the pressure got to me,” Harvey admitted, smiling. “Not once this week had I played the 18th well. I think it was in the back of my mind and I was telling myself I can’t play the hole.
“In the play-off, I suddenly just relaxed about the whole thing. I was going to go with driver, because the wind was so fierce, but when Dave hit it into the trees on the left, I realised he was in a tough spot and I just needed to par.”
Harvey got to the green in two while Law, under pressure to go for the green, put his approach into the water guarding the front of the green. His fourth shot flew the green, his putt ran through the green and when his ball finally dropped, he had seven shots on his card.
“I felt sorry for him because he has been a solid competitor all week and to go out that way, must have been hard to imagine,” said Harvey, who rolled his first putt to within an inch of the cup and tidied up for par, and the title, under thunderous applause from the large home crowd.
And there was an ironic footnote to his victory.
“I guess the term “like father, like son” is really appropriate now,” said the 22-year-old.
George Harvey won the same title twice. He beat Andries Oosthuizen in a play-off in 1973 and followed the same route against Peter Todt, to clinch the title in 1976.
“This is an unbelievably special moment for me, to follow in my father’s footsteps like this,” he said. “I’m proud of the way I hung in there, especially with the wind up. I was pretty anxious and nervous and I had a lot of emotions going. To finally get the job done is a great feeling.
“I’m kind of lost for words. It’s still pretty unbelievable.”
Ryan Dreyer carded a final round 71 to finish two shots behind the duelling leaders, while France’s Clement Sordet snuck into fourth on 11-under-par 277 with his final round 71.
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