Lombard reaches quarters at The Amateur Champs
South Africa’s Zander Lombard defeated England’s Adam Chapman to reach the quarterfinals at The Amateur Championship on Friday.
The 19-year-old Woodhill golfer gained the early advantage, but had to overcome a couple of hiccups on the back stretch of Royal Portrush to seal the match 1-up.
“Adam’s short game was simply amazing,” Lombard said. “Every time he got himself into trouble off the tee, he dished up some incredible flop shots, pitches and putts to keep up the pressure.
“I was 2-up at the turn, but he knocked in a stunning 20-footer for birdie at the 11th. I got it back to 2-up with a birdie at the 12th after he got into bunker trouble, but at the 13th, I overshot the green and had to take an unplayable.
“I ended with a double bogey. He was in the rough off the tee, but whacked it out of the bush and made bogey to take us back to 1-up. The whole game was a roller-coaster ride, up and down.”
After both players parred the 14th, Lombard caught the bunker at the par-four 15th, while Chapman safely reached the green.
“I hit a poor trap shot, and paid with a bogey and we were back to all square,” Lombard said. “We both hit the fairway at 16. His approach landed in the valley left of the green and I hit a great shot to 40 meters right of the flag. Adam pitched to 20 feet and my first putt got caught in the swale.
“I chipped to six foot, and Adam lagged his close, but lipped out for par. I knew I had to drain that putt to square the match, so I took my time and knocked in, centre of the cup.”
Lombard mailed his tee shot down the middle of the 17th fairway, while Chapman hooked his left, but caught a great lie in the thick bush.
“His second flew across the fairway into the right rough. He hacked it out and hit it to six foot. I had 30 feet left for birdie, but the ball just rolled over the lip of the cup. He missed the putt, though, and I was 1-up heading down the last.
“I knew I needed to nail the final hole and I just dug as deep mentally as I could go.”
Lombard hit his approach to 40 meters short of the hole, while Chapman finished short right of the pin.
“I lagged the putt to gimmie distance and clinched the victory with the second putt,” Lombard said.
“It was a fantastic contest and I learned a lot from the experience. Every match is tough, but I am learning that I am a lot tougher mentally than I give myself credit for.”
Tuksgolf Club and Academies head coach and technical director, Llewellyn van Leeuwen, accompanied South African Golf Association’s six-man troupe to Scotland. The national coach was thrilled with Lombard’s performance under pressure.
“This is the second successive year that he has reached the match play stage, but this marks his best achievement in this prestigious championship,” Van Leeuwen said.
“It was two tough matches to get through in one day and mentally, it was exhausting. He played really well. He showed great mental strength and determination against both opponents, especially when he holed the seven-footer at the 16th to halve against Chapman.
“He was very calm over the two putts for victory at the 18th and I look forward to his quarterfinal match against Paul Howard from England on Saturday.”
The 119th edition of Europe’s most prestigious amateur championship drew 288 competitors, including 10 South Africans, from as far afield as South America, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.
The collated scores from the two rounds decided the top 64 players who compete in the match play that determines the champion. Severe fog caused several suspensions and lengthy delays to the stroke play qualifier, hence the play-offs for the match play was only completed on Thursday.
Victory would be a major fillip to any aspiring professional’s career as the winner will gain entry to both next month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake and the 2015 U.S Open, as well as an expected invitation to The Masters next spring.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.