Naidoo triumphs at Nomads SA Boys U-17 Champs
Central Gauteng junior Dylan Naidoo held off a spirited charge from Boland’s Herman Loubser to claim the Nomads SA Boys Under-17 Stroke Play Championship at Polokwane Golf Club on Thursday.
The 16-year-old Modderfontein golfer carried the momentum gained from three consecutive rounds of 71 into the final round. Two birdies and 16 pars added up to a two-under-par 70 and a one stroke victory on five under 211.
Reigning Nomads SA Boys Under-15 champion Loubser put up a courageous fight, but three drops in the last five holes derailed his chances. The 15-year-old signed for a 68 to finish second, two strokes clear of Zimbabwean Kieran Vincent, who closed with a 72.
Naidoo was instrumental in helping Central Gauteng win the Challenge Cup Teams Tournament in May and last month, he contributed to TuksSport High School’s second victory in the SA High School Championship in Bloemfontein.
His victory further underlines Naidoo’s rising status in the top flight of South African junior golf.
“This is the biggest achievement of my career and it’s great to finally earn my spot among the top juniors in the country,” the humble teenager said.
In the course of 72 holes, Naidoo knocked in 10 birdie putts and dropped just five shots.
Not surprisingly his performance has earned him the rather appropriate nickname, ‘King of Par’.
“Playing in the team events was great experience and helped my confidence,” he said.
“Before the Nomads SA Boys, I spoke with our sport psychologist at TuksSport, Theo Bezuidenhout, and my coach, Llewellyn von Leeuwen. My aim was to be consistent and not to try and win it in the first round.
“I’m really proud that I’ve come through the week without a double bogey. I didn’t get into trouble much, but when I did, I just focussed on getting to the green with the least amount of shots.”
His consistency from tee to green proved to be Loubser’s undoing.
Naidoo made a lone birdie at the second, while the Boland golfer reeled in birdies at the second, fourth, fifth and ninth to turn in six under. Loubser bogeyed the 10th, but stayed two strokes ahead with another birdie at the 12th.
He made six at the par-four 13th, though, but Loubser ahead again when he sunk a 20-footer for birdie at the 15th. At the 16th, he lipped out for par and just when it looked like the tournament would head into extra time, Naidoo made birdie number two.
“I hit three-wood 15 meters short of the green at 17,” he explained. “I chipped it 10 feet past the hole, but made the return for birdie. Herman chipped it 20 feet short of the hole and missed the birdie putt.
“I found the fairway at 18 for the first time in the tournament and hit my second to the middle of the green. Herman also got on the green for two. I lagged it to tap-in distance and made par.
“He had a chance to force a play-off from about eight foot, but his birdie putt lipped out. Herman was a fantastic opponent; he really kept me on my toes. Credit to him for a great final round tussle.”
Meanwhile Rosswell Sinclair notched six birdies over the first seven holes on his way to four-under-par 68 to finish at even-par 216.
Gauteng North golfer Juan-Pierre Cooper closed with a 73 to finish in fifth on his own.
Defending champion Jovan Rebula also carded a 68. The Southern Cape golfer vaulted to joint sixth on three over alongside Boland’s Dylon Jacobs, who carded a 75, as well as reigning ProShop Northern Amateur Stroke Play champion Marco Steyn and Gauteng North’s Dawid Opperman, who both returned 77s.
Naidoo and Steyn’s TuksSport High School team mate, Sentanio Minnie, completed the top 10 after he signed for a 73 to finish on six over 222.
FINAL RESULT (top 10)
283 Dylan Naidoo 71 71 71 70
284 Herman Loubser 70 74 70 70
286 Kieran Vincent ZIM 70 74 70 72
288 Rosswell Sinclair 74 72 74 68
289 Juan-Pierre Cooper 74 70 72 73
291 Dylon Jacobs 76 70 72 73; Jovan Rebula 73 72 78 68
293 Marco Steyn 75 74 72 72; Dawid Opperman 73 75 74 71
294 Sentanio Minnie 75 74 72 73
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.