Sinclair sizzles at Lion of Africa Junior Open
Ross Sinclair staved off a spirited final round challenge from KwaZulu-Natal’s Luke Mayo to lift the Lion of Africa Junior Open title on Sunday.
The 18-year-old Gauteng North golfer fired rounds of 69 and 70 at Clovelly Country Club to claim a one stroke victory on five-under-par 139.
Sinclair had a jumbled start with three birdies and two bogeys, but after a dropping a third shot at 10, the reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play champion turned the tide with three birdies on the trot from 14.
A birdie at 18 secured him a share of the first round lead with Western Province star Luca Filippi.
The Centurion player gained a considerable advantage with hat-trick of birdies at the start of the second round to go six under.
“I birdied nine, but gave it straight back when I hit it in the water right at 10,” Sinclair said.
“I made a couple of pars, but I fumbled again at 16. For some reason, I struggled to chip on the back nine and it cost me a shot at the par three. Luckily the putter saved me and I made solid pars at 17 and 18 to close out the win.”
Mayo had to settle for second, having made much of the early running after an opening 72.
The Mount Edgecombe golfer reeled in three successive birdied from the second and eagled the ninth to move within striking distance of Sinclair.
After a bogey at 10, Mayo kept the pressure on Sinclair with a birdie at 14, but just couldn’t pick up another birdie down last four holes to force a play-off.
Filippi followed his first round 69 with a 72 to take third on three under 141.
“Luca was playing really well and keeping me busy, but I had no idea that Luca was chasing until about midway through the back nine,” Sinclair said.
“Luca also struggled a little down the back nine, but he turned it around with a birdie at 14 and the pressure was on again. I’m just really glad that the putter stayed hot.”
Sinclair campaigned on the American Junior Golf Association’s Junior Tour in the United States from June to September.
The GFG Academy player won the Under Armour® / Jeff Overton Championship in early July and the qualifier for the prestigious Optimist Junior Golf International Championships in Florida, where he claimed a top seven finish alongside Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion Dylan Naidoo and only returned in time to help Gauteng North clinch promotion in the recent South African Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, at Glendower.
With this victory, Sinclair pipped Naidoo for the top spot in the South African Golf Association’s Junior Rankings.
He also joined Herman Loubser from Boland and Free State’s Wilco Nienaber as the third two-time winner on the national junior circuit this season.
“I’m really chuffed with this win,” Sinclair said. “The Junior Series is like a mini version of the Sunshine Tour’s Chase to the Investec Cup for us and every junior out there wants to own one of the titles.
“I’m glad I got it done before we play the Joburg Junior Open in December, because now I won’t have that added pressure.
“I didn’t see my coach, Graeme Francis, for three months, so we worked really hard on my swing over the last two weeks and it paid off nicely. Now he just has to help me sort out this chip shot issue so I can have a real shot at the last event.”
LION OF AFRICA JUNIOR OPEN RESULT – TOP 10
139 Rosswell Sinclair 69 70
140 Luke Mayo 72 68
141 Luca Filippi 69 72
142 Kyle De Beer 70 72
143 Dehan Joubert 74 69; Hilmi Mallick 73 70; Willem Boshoff 71 72
144 Jordan Duminy 71 73
145 Deon Germishuys 73 72
146 Daniel Cronje 70 76
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.