Pienaar reigns supreme at Sanlam SA Amateur

He stopped the Brandon Stone Express in the third round of the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship on Wednesday morning, but Stephen Pienaar (pictured) had little time to savour his victory.

Just hours after the Veereniging player delivered the crushing blow to the country’s top amateur with a textbook par at the 18th hole, he had to tee it up again; this time to derail Scotland’s Ross Kellett and his progress into the semi-finals at Vaal de Grace.

The Scottish number three was two up at the turn, but the 19-year-old found enough steam to go another nine holes and claim a tight 1-up victory over Kellett.

“I got the match to all square with an eagle at the 17th,” said Pienaar. “Then I had a dose of de-ja-vu when he bogeyed and I made par to win the match.”

Pienaar described both matches as very tough, but the found the key to winning in his game.

“Striking was key against Brandon and I putted well against Ross,” he said. “They both pushed me to test my limits. To be honest, beating two such quality players has given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the week.”

Unheralded Muzi Nethunzwi advanced in emphatic style when he defeated Ross Callaghan.

Less than an hour after he had to go to 20 holes to down Stuart Smith in the morning, the 21-year-old from Soweto gave Callaghan a lesson in match play as he systematically navigated the Nick Price design to a 6 and 4 win.

The young upstart, who is coached at the Gary Player School of Excellence as part of Central Gauteng’s development programme, knocked in a one-footer for eagle to end the match in grand style.

“I played very well but to be fair, Ross made a couple of bogeys against my pars to give me the edge,” he said. “I was glad though, that the match didn’t go the full 18 holes. I had probably 30 minutes to eat and regroup after the match with Stuart and I could tell I was getting tired.”

Meanwhile Aubrey Barnard knocked off Riekus Nortje two and one and Jacques Kruyswijk routed Jean-Claude van Dommelen 6 and 5.

The visiting Scots also continued to steam along.

Of the original 10 entered for the event, eight survived the 36-hole qualifier and the first round, but their number was cut to five in the second. In the third round, Paul Shields, Jordan Findlay and Michael Stewart advanced.

Shields downed 16-year-old Haydn Porteous at the 19th, Findlay took care of business with a 5 and 4 win over Kevin Sharp and Scottish number one Stewart moved another step closer to the finals when he defeated Kyle Basson 1-up.

Shields said his match with Porteous was one of his toughest yet.

“He is a real fighter and it was a great battle,” he said. Porteous had a chance to square the match with an eagle putt from about 10 foot at the 17th. He missed the putt, but didn’t make a mistake the second time around, knocking in a 10-footer for birdie to take the match into extra time.

The last word belonged to Nortje.

“I had 16 birdies and three drops and I’m the one going home,” said the George player. “Golf is a hard school.”

Click here for the tournament website.

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