McClatchie conquers at Glendower

South Africa’s first Olympian golfer Kyle McClatchie beat the nerves with an impressive show of composure to lead the nine-strong amateur delegation on day one of the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

The 19-year-old from Ekurhuleni crafted a magnificent one-under-par 71 at the championship layout of Glendower Golf Club on Thursday to grab a share of 43rd.

It came as no surprise to the golf pundits who follow the local amateur game in South Africa to see the Golf RSA National Squad member finish alongside the likes of 2010 Ryder Cup player Eduardo Molinari, 14-time Sunshine Tour champion Jaco van Zyl and former Freddie Tait Trophy winner Dylan Frittelli.

Not only was McClatchie – who represented the country in golf’s debut at the Youth Olympics in 2014 – the most-improved male amateur in South Africa in 2016, but in addition to four victories on the amateur circuit, he claimed a runner-up finish on the Big Easy Tour and victory on the IGT Tour.

Errant tee shots at the 10th and 11th may have seen a lesser man crumble, but McClatchie reversed the bogey-bogey start with birdies at 12 and 13 to get his campaign back on track.

“I was quite surprised that I was nervous at the start, but nothing quite prepares you for that moment on the first tee, especially not with such a big crowd watching,” he stated.

“Two bad tee shots led to two bogeys, but I settled down nicely after the birdies and from there it was just another day on the golf course. You automatically adjust to the atmosphere and the crowds as you go along and I’ll be a lot more at ease in the second round.”

McClatchie boxed a 15-footer for birdie to huge grandstand applause at the 18th and added further gains at the second and eighth to go to three under.

“Unfortunately all the good work came undone at the ninth, my last hole,” he said. “I hit three-wood off the tee, but it wasn’t the right club. The tee shot veered left and finished in the trees and I had to chip out sideways. My approach went too long and I ended up three-putting for a double bogey.”

McClatchie described his debut in the second oldest national championship as ‘everything I thought it would be and more.’

“When I holed the birdie putt at 18 and the crowd exploded, it really brought the magnitude of this championship home for me. It was so incredible to have my dad (Ryan) on the bag to share the experience with me.

“We’ll go through the highs and lows tonight and we’ll come back ready to fight on Friday. I’ve made a good start to build on and the goal now is to make the weekend and then put myself in a position to challenge for the Freddie Tait Trophy on Sunday.”

Tournament host Ernie Els’ nephew Jovan Rebula opened with a one-over-par 73, with South Africa’s number one ranked Marco Steyn and qualifier Theunis Bezuidenhout a further shot back.

Darin de Smidt and Philip Geerts posted a pair of 75’s, Dylan Naidoo returned a 77, reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Craig Ross from Scotland registered a 79 and Juran Dreyer, who won the pre-qualifier at Irene Country Club, signed for an 81.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of Golf RSA.

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