Rebula, Buitendag play their way into at Sanlam SA Amateur

Jade Buitendag’s putter caught fire on the back-nine of the Rocklands Course at Country Club Johannesburg and paved his way into the match play phase of this year’s Sanlam SA Amateur Championship.

The 18-year-old East London golfer carded a two-under-par 70 that lifted him into a share for second at five-under alongside Southern Cape’s Jovan Rebula, who overcame club selection and accuracy issues to produce a five under 67.

The pair trail overnight leader Haydn Porteous by one shot and, although the gap could widen and players in the afternoon could overtake them, the duo is certain of their match play spots.

“Even if we slip a little down the leaderboard, we will still make the top 64 and that’s the first step in the right direction,” Buitendag said.

The Border golfer faltered early in the round with bogeys at the first and fifth and dropped two shots at the par-three fourth. “I was very frustrated, but managed to keep it together and just focus on holes coming up,” he said. “Then my putter just got hot after the turn and I knocked it in the hole for birdies at the 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th.

“It’s funny, but I’ve shot the exact same number as I did last year. Hopefully I won’t get knocked out in the first round again. I’ve had some good experiences since then and I won more than 50% of my matches at the Inter-Provincial last year. I hope the experience will help me get to the second round, at least.”

After a frustrating four birdie, four bogey 72 in Sunday’s first round, George’s Rebula tackled the 7,009m layout with renewed vigour this morning and happily signed for a near perfect 67.

“On Sunday I struggled to judge the distances properly, because the ball travels so much further up here, but I felt more in control today,” the 15-year-old explained.

Rebula knocked in a short putt for birdie at the par-five 12th and a great drive down the fairway of the par-five 13th set up an eagle opportunity. “I had about 225m left to the flag and I kept my approach on the right hand side so it would pitch and kick left to the green,” Rebula explained. “It worked perfectly and I had a three-footer left for eagle.”

The teenager turned in four under after another birdie at the 16th, but ran into trouble at the par-four first. “I had just 90m to the green, but I duffed my wedge shot and plugged in the bunker. I actually hit a great trap shot, but I missed the putt for par from about six foot.

“It was a silly mistake, but those things happen and you just have to get past it.”

Although he represented Border at the SA Junior Inter-Provincial and still competes as a junior, Rebula made a great debut for Southern Cape at the SA Inter-Provincial last year, losing just one match after calling a penalty on himself.

After a top 30 in the SA Stroke Play earlier this month, the youngster is quietly confident ahead of the match play stage.

“I seem to do really well in match play and I’ve got a pretty good record, but you know, in match play, anything can happen,” he said. “You have to pick your shots and get aggressive when you need to, which around this golf course, could get tricky. It’s very long and tight, so keeping it in play and making putts will be the first priority.”

Former professional Gerlou Roux, who joined Buitendag and Rebula with a second round 70, believes Porteous is still the man to beat.

“I really think this championship is Porteous’s to lose,” the Western Cape golfer said. “He is playing so well at the moment that he is really in a class of his own. I don’t think anyone can touch him; we’re all playing for second place. Then again, match play is unpredictable. We’ll have to see how he adjusts.”

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