Minnie lines up Africa Junior Open glory

Sentanio Minnie produced a thrilling second round comeback to edge ahead of joint overnight leader Allan Lones in the inaugural Africa Junior Open at Fish River Sun Country Club on Sunday.

The 17-year-old Ekurhuleni junior overcame a rough start to sign for a 74 and will carry a two stroke lead over Lones into the final round after the Southern Cape closed with a 76.

Following Hilton College graduate Keagan Thomas’s victory in the inaugural Joburg Junior Open in December, the South African Golf Association has hosted two more Junior Opens in association with the Sunshine Tour this season.

Otto van Buynder won the Tshwane Junior Open in a play-off in June and Minnie hopes to make it two for TuksSport Golf Academy by joining Dimension Data Junior Open champion Marco Steyn in the winner’s circle.

“It would be a dream come true to win and, after making it through the first two rounds, I believe it’s possible for me to win,” Minnie said.

“We started in really nice weather, but the wind was blowing a gale when we teed off in the second round. We had a four-club wind to deal with, but after a shocking start, I adapted my game plan and I managed to finish in front.”

Minnie and Lones opened with rounds of 73 at the Gary Player-designed layout near Port Alfred, but Lones pounced to take the early lead in the second round after Minnie stumbled from the blocks with a double-bogey, bogey start.

The Kingswood golfer dropped three shots but kept control as Minnie traded for bogeys at four and seven with birdies at three, five and six.

Minnie trailed Lones by one stroke after a double bogey at the par four ninth, but he stemmed the bleeding with pars at 10, 11 and 12 and rallied with a birdie at 13 and an eagle at the par-four 14th to overhaul Lones for the lead.

“After I hit my tee shot left, I went for a sand-wedge to the green,” Minnie said.

“The hole was downwind and it came out perfect and started flag hunting. The ball stopped 10 feet from the hole and I made the birdie putt.

“The next hole is a short par four and I hit a four-iron just into the rough. I took sand-wedge again and I hit a flyer from 120 meters. It bounced once and trickled into the hole. That was a real momentum swinger and I kept it in play nicely over the last three holes for pars.

“I think I have worked out how to play the course in any condition. If I can stick to the game plan, keep my focus and stay patient, I can pull this through.”

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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