Lombard rises to number one

When South Africa’s Haydn Porteous fires his opening shot at the Russian Open on Thursday, his number one ranking will pass to Tshwane golfer Zander Lombard.

Porteous held the number one spot on the South African Golf Association’s ranking since September last year, while Lombard stayed close in second place.

Although Porteous cemented his number one ranking with eight victories this season, including a successful title defence at the SA Stroke Play Championship, Lombard kept pace with the Modderfontein golfer and narrowed the gap on the frontrunner when he defeated Porteous for the KwaZulu-Natal Amateur title in May.

Lombard also improved his world amateur golf ranking considerably to 158th in the world with a solid campaign in the United Kingdom in July.

The 18-year-old Woodhill golfer tied for 22nd at the St Andrews Links Trophy, finished joint 17th in the 118th British Amateur Championship and advanced to the second round of the match play at the prestigious event.

The number one spot may have fallen to him due to Porteous’ departure from the amateur ranks, but Lombard said he takes nothing for granted and will work hard to hold on the honour.

“It’s the natural progression on things,” he said. “The number one spot fell to Haydn when Brandon Stone left South Africa for college golf in the United States. Now that he has joined the paid ranks, the honour has fallen to me. But it has been my goal all season to get to the number one spot and now it’s up to me to keep myself in this position.”

Lombard is well aware of the chasing pack that includes Western Province Amateur double winner, Christiaan Bezuidenhout from Ekurhuleni and former professional Gerlou Roux, ranked third and fourth respectively.

“Getting to the number one spot is an achievement every amateur chases and I am very aware of Christiaan and Gerlou; they are as hungry as I was to get to number one, so I’ll just have to keep my game at the highest level.”

Ten years ago, Lombard started working with Llewellyn van Leeuwen, who is the Tuksgolf Club and Academies head coach and technical director at the HPC at the University of Pretoria. Van Leeuwen also coaches the South African Golf Association’s national teams. At the end of August, Lombard and three team-mates leave for Scotland to represent the University of Pretoria HPC in an exclusive four-team competition in St Andrews from 5-8 September.

“This year, Lew and I have really stepped up my training, especially my fitness training,” he said. “As my health and fitness has improved, and it has had a direct and positive result on my game.”

“We will competing in the St Andrews University’s 600th Celebrations Golf Tournament against the St Andrews University team, the NCAA team from the United States and a team from the Scandinavian Golf Institute. I’m looking forward to the event and the chance to gain more international experience.”

But first, the new number one will head to Plettenburg Bay Golf Club for the Southern Cape Open this August.

“Due to the tournament at St Andrews, I will miss the Mpumalanga Open, so it’s key that I do well at Plettenberg Bay; after all, I have that number one spot to look after,” Lombard chuckled.

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