Stapleton bows out of Indian Amateur
Central Gauteng mid-amateur Shaun Stapleton fought the good fight, but South Africa’s lone survivor at the 116th Amateur Golf Championship of India reached the end of the road in Friday’s second round at Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
“The boy wonder earned this well-deserved victory,” said Stapleton after his 2 & 1 loss to India’s top ranked junior Karandeep Kochhar.
“It was a very tight and exciting match and it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know just how good he was before we started. At least I put up a helluva fight and I can go home with my head held high.”
The 18-year-old Kochhar is the top ranked junior in India and ranks number one on the Indian Golf Union Order of Merit. A month ago, he shot a final round 62 to become the first Indian amateur to win a pro tournament on their domestic circuit and the youngest winner in more than 20 years.
“He is incredibly talented and I enjoyed every moment I played against him,” Stapleton said. “I hope he can take it all the way to the finish line and make his pro debut on the back of winning his national amateur championship.”
Kochhar advanced to the quarter-finals, but South African team’s assistant manager David Younge said Stapleton made sure it was by no means an easy ride.
“There is no denying the youngster’s talent, but Stapes held his own out there,” Younge said.
“He made a great start with two pars, but went 2-down with soft bogeys at the third and fourth holes. He birdied the fifth to gain a shot on Karandeep and made a great up-and-down at seven for par, but the youngster chipped in for birdie to go 2-up. They halved the next three holes in pars and Stapes got it back to 1-down with a great par at 11.
“Then Karandeep holed a 20-footer from the fringe at the 12th to lead 2-up again. Both players made great par saves at 13 and bogeyed at 14. Stapes birdied 15 to cut the lead to one and nearly holed out at 16, but the Indian youngster boxed a six-footer for birdie to halve the hole.
“Stapes rifled a great tee shot down the very tough par four 17th and hit an unbelievable second, but unfortunately the ball trickled off the green and he was left with a very tricky lie. Karandeep hit it middle of the green and lagged his first putt to give.
“Stapes hit a superb chip to six feet, but his par putt hit the brakes right on the edge of the hole and Karandeep had the win. Stapes was rock solid out there and I have to applaud his demeanour on the course – he was a wonderful ambassador for South Africa.
“I speak for the whole team when I say we have had an utterly amazing time here in India, both on and off the golf course. The Indian people have been magnificent hosts and we are thankful to the Indian Golf Union for their superb hospitality.
“We are incredibly honoured and excited to have won the first Golf Test Series and we look forward to hosting India in South Africa next year, but just for the record – our hospitality doesn’t extend to giving you the second Test… that you will have to earn.”
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.