Nienaber reigns supreme in Rustenburg
While well-known Free State golf export Jbe’ Kruger was imploding in the second round of the South African Open Championship, Bloemfontein junior Wilco Nienaber coolly cruised to an emphatic 10 stroke victory in the Nomads SA Boys Under-15 Championship on Friday.
Kruger emulated the local hero at Rustenburg Golf Club and shared the first round lead after matching Martin Vorster from Mossel Bay with an opening 70.
But unlike his idol, Nienaber kept on the winning track.
He fired a second round 68 to pull two shots clear from Vorster and put an exclamation mark behind a superb campaign with a flawless six-under-par 66.
The 14-year-old teenager topped the leaderboard at 12-under-par 204, while Vorster finished a distant second at 214 after a final round 74. Gauteng North’s Werner Deyzel carded a three under 69 – his best round of the week – to take third on his own on even-par 216.
Nienaber called his first national junior victory the biggest highlight of his short career.
“This is just unbelievable,” the Grey College student gushed.
“I got a lot of firsts this week. It’s the first time I posted such a low score, the first time I’ve won by such a big margin and the first time I signed a card without any bogeys.
“I didn’t have any pressure after the turn, but I still wanted to keep my card clean and make birdies where I could. I’m really proud that I kept my cool and my focus and pulled it off.”
Nienaber started with five pars before an eagle at the par-five sixth sparked his winning run.
“I drove it slightly left, just off the fairway, and took a six-iron into the green,” he explained.
“I hit a bit too soft and finished short of the green. I had a chip of about 25 meters and caught it perfectly and it dropped in the hole for eagle.
“I knocked in a two meter putt at the eighth for birdie and boxed a two-and-a half meter putt at the ninth to turn four under. I knew I had a really big lead, but I just kept my head down and got two more coming down the straight.”
Nienaber enjoyed two more gains at the 14th and 16th on his way to victory.
His coach, Quinton Williams, was very proud when his young charge led the Individual Standings at the Ernie Els SA Primary Schools Champs at Middelburg Country Club last year.
“I think he will be over the moon about this one,” the young gun said. “I had a lot of this week, going head-to-head with Martin and Werner, but I’m really glad that I finished in the winner’s circle.”
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.