O’Reilly has his Day in Knysna
Australian Jason Day and Western Province amateur Carlo O’Reilly may have almost nothing in common, but for both players, Sunday 16 August 2015 will live on as the day that changed their lives.
Just a few hours before Day clinched a start-to-finish victory in the PGA Championship to lift his first Major title, 21-year-old O’Reilly from Atlantic Beach went wire-to-wire in Knysna to break through for his maiden national amateur victory in the Southern Cape Open.
Impressively, O’Reilly shot four successive rounds of 67 at Knysna Golf Club to match Day’s Major record-breaking 20 under par total at Whistling Straits.
Like Day, O’Reilly’s victory was in no small part due to his resolve to get the job done.
“I’ve been close so many times and you start to wonder if it’s ever going to happen for you,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of great rounds, but there was always the one round that killed my chances.
“My only aim this season has been to put myself in contention with greater consistency and after I took the first round lead, my only goal was to finish in the top five.
“It’s a huge achievement for me to put together four solid rounds; the best reward for all the hard work that’s gone into the last six months with my coach, Paul McKenzie.
“It was unbelievable to finish in double digits after four solid sub-par rounds. What Jason did, was phenomenal, but I have to admit, I felt like a Major winner myself when I sunk the last putt.”
O’Reilly carried a three stroke lead over Southern Cape’s Andre Nel into the final round and protected his advantage with birdies at three, seven and nine to turn 18 under.
Nel slipped from contention, but the 2015 Western Province Amateur champion was quickly replaced by a trio of charging opponents.
Reigning Nomads SA Boys U-17 champion Herman Loubser, Potchefstroom’s Aubrey Beckley and fellow Western Province amateur Gerlou Roux were reeling in birdies to close the gap, especially after O’Reilly bogeyed 11.
In the end, though, the tournament turned on a hat-trick of crucial birdies that left the eventual champion well clear of the chasing pack.
“Herman, Aubrey and Gerlou were burning up the course in front of me and I knew I needed to make a couple of birdies to give myself room to wiggle,” O’Reilly said.
“I hit my approach at the par-four 15th to a foot and holed the putt. I hit a good drive down 16 and I decided to lay-up and try to make birdie the old-fashioned way instead of risking the second shot.
“I had a 100 meters left and thought I had ruined my chances when I pulled a wedge and left myself a 40-footer for birdie. But I drained it and made the 15-footer for birdie at 17, as well.
“Herman was in the clubhouse on 18 under after a 64, so I had a little breathing room going down 18 and I wrapped up with a solid regulation par.”
O’Reilly had just five bogeys in 72 holes and said planning and execution was the key to his victory.
“I had a strategy for each hole and I stuck to it,” he said. “I just stuck to my routines and one good swing led to another and I made a bunch of birdies by sticking to my guns.
“I been playing on the IGT Cape Tour in the last few months and I have gained a lot more self-belief. I was nervous the first time I played with someone like Peter Karmis, but after a few events, I don’t fear the Sunshine Tour pros anymore.
“I am more relaxed and less intense. I think that had a lot to do with my performance this week.”
This marked the fourth year that the Western Province Government supported the Southern Cape Open and Southern Cape Golf Union Director of Golf Billy Valentyn was pleased with the turnout.
“We are greatly indebted to the Western Province Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport for their ongoing sponsorship of the Southern Cape Open,” Valentyn said.
“The tournament has grown into one of the top annual amateur championships and we were really pleased to see so many of the country’s top amateurs in action at this year’s edition.
“We were treated to some amazing golf from Herman, Gerlou and Aubrey in the final round, but all credit goes to our 2015 champion, Carlo O’Reilly, who wrapped up a very well-deserved victory.”
FINAL ROUND RESULT – Top 10
268 Carlo O’Reilly 67 67 67 67
270 Herman Loubser 73 67 66 64; Aubrey Beckley 69 70 68 63
276 Gerlou Roux 73 72 67 64; Andre Nel 69 69 66 72; Armandt Scholtz 67 72 68 69
277 Albert Venter 67 71 68 71
278 Ivan Williams 72 73 66 67
279 James du Preez 74 71 69 65; Darin de Smidt 71 67 72 69; Michael Sherriff 71 67 70 71; Hennie O’Kennedy 70 70 70 69; Luke Trocado 66 71 71 71
280 Nicholas Mitchell 73 66 71 70
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.