Roux scores home win at WP Amateur

Gerlou Roux pulled off a home victory at the Western Province Amateur Championship when he defeated Gauteng North’s James du Preez in a tightly-contested 36-hole final on Saturday.

Roux already visited the podium at the Volvo Highveld Mid-Amateur Open earlier this month, but lifting the title with a 2 & 1 win at Milnerton Golf Links marked a first on the Open amateur circuit this season for the 37-year former professional after a number of close calls.

Among a slew of top fives was a runner-up finish at the North West Open Championship in March, where Du Preez celebrated a lengthy return to form from injury to defeat Roux in a play-off.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have won, because the Western Province Amateur is considered one of the majors on the amateur circuit,” said an elated Roux.

“I had to dig really deep and draw on past experience and I’m extremely happy about this achievement.”

Roux has certainly been in threatening form this season, and four rounds of match play at the recent Africa Zone VI Golf Challenge was the making of the giant-killer, who dispatched a few big names on his way to the final.

The Bellville amateur defeated reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play champion Paul Boshoff 4 & 3 in round one and sent defending champion and South African number one, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, packing with a 3 & 2 victory in the second round.

Reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion Tristen Strydom proved no match for Roux, who triumphed 4 & 3 in their quarter-final appointment.

Roux scored his biggest scalp in the semi-final, however, when he outlasted two-time Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence to win 1-up.

Du Preez, meanwhile, defeated Jade Buitendag from Southern Cape 2 & 1 in the first round, got past reigning SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith in the second with a 4 & 2 victory and whipped Western Province favourite Altin van der Merwe 4 & 3 in the quarter-finals.

The 18-year-old TuksGolf player defeated another Western Province favourite, Luke Tracado, 1-up to join Roux in the final.

After Du Preez cancelled a bogey at the fifth with a birdie at the next hole, Roux took control of the match and was 6-up on the youngster after a birdie at the 10th and a string of five more from the 10th to the 14th.

Du Preez retaliated with a birdie at 16 and responded to Roux’s birdie at 17 with an eagle. The deficit was down to three at the turn after Roux bogeyed the 18th.

Roux won the 21st hole (third) with a birdie and 6-up again after Du Preez dropped back-to-back shots at the 22nd (fourth) and 23rd (fifth) holes. The Pretoria golfer dug deep once again, hauling in birdies at the 24th (sixth) and 26th (eighth) holes and matching Roux’s birdie at the 28th (10th).

Du Preez birdied the 29th (11th) and was just 2-down when Roux bogeyed the 30th (12th) hole.

Both players bogeyed the 32nd (14th), but Roux turned up the pressure with a birdie at the 33rd (15th).

Du Preez fought valiantly with back-to-back birdies at the 34th (16th) and 35th (17th), but the battle was done and dusted after Roux drained his birdie putt at the penultimate hole for victory.

“It always tough to play the youngsters, and it means a lot to an old guy like me to have beaten the likes of Christiaan and Thriston,” Roux said. “James is such a fighter, too, and he kept coming back. It was a great battle in the true fashion of match play.”

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