Nienaber on course for hat-trick in Durban

Bloemfontein junior Wilco Nienaber is stalking a hat-trick of wins after taking a two shot lead at the 36-hole mark of the in the Nomads National Order of Merit at Durban Country Club on Monday.

The 14-year-old Grey College student decided to forgo the practice round on Sunday to compete in the final round of the Clarens Junior Open, which he won. But, since he had never played the course, Nienaber employed a very simple tactic in his first two trips around championship layout.

“I’ve heard it’s a very tough course, so I just decided to stick to the basics,” said Nienaber, who pulled away from the chasing pack with rounds of 74 and 68.

“I just tried to hit every fairway and see where I go from there. It seemed to work for me.”

The game-plan left Nienaber in pole position on two-under-par 142, two strokes clear of Ekurhuleni’s Kyle McClatchie (70 – 74 and Luca Filippi from the Western Province, who signed for rounds of 74 and 70.

Mount Edgecombe’s Luke Mayo is a further two shots back after shooting 74 and 72.

Just four days ago, Nienaber captured an emphatic 10 stroke victory in the Nomads SA Boys Under-15 Championship at Rustenburg Golf Club. On Sunday, he romped to an eight stroke triumph in the Clarens Junior Open with rounds of 67, 67 and 69.

After two rounds at Durban Country Club, he is an impressive 24 shots under par in eight rounds, but admitted that the wind got the better of his game in the first round.

“I struggled in the wind this morning, especially over the first five holes,” he said.

“They are even tougher than they look on television, especially when you play them into the wind. I dropped shots at the first, third and fifth, but it got better once I got through that opening stretch.

“I bogeyed the third hole again in the second round, and the fourth, but it felt good to get through the first and fifth without dropping a shot.”

The young gun rallied with six birdies in the second round, but has some serious opposition in his rear-view mirror.

Filippi made a valuable contribution to Province’s victory in the SA U-19 Inter-Provincial, while McClatchie tied for fourth in the Joburg Junior Open in December and is showing the kind of form that carried him to the number one spot in the Junior Rankings.

Mayo tied for second in the Joburg Junior Open and helped KwaZulu-Natal clinch promotion in the Junior Inter-Provincial.

Nienaber is sticking to his game plan, though.

“I’ll take things hole by hole, shot by shot, because this course is really tough,” he said.

“You don’t want to hit it off-line and you don’t want to miss a green. I hit most of my shots close for my birdies and I drained a six-meter putt at the 16th for birdie.

“I just want to have more of the same in the final round.”

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

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