Stylish Stapes seals Bobby Locke Open

Shaun Stapleton put the finishing touches on his prep for the upcoming SA Mid-Amateur Test against India with a superb one shot victory in the inaugural Bobby Locke Open at Parkview Golf Club.

The Wanderers golfer opened with a 70 in the weather-hit first round on Monday and carded a 69 in the second round to pull within two shots of the 36-hole leader Garrick Higgo.

On Wednesday morning, Stapleton overhauled the rising star from Boland with another 70 in the third round and he followed with an even-par 72 in the afternoon to secure victory at seven under 281.

The 40-year-old software developer he decided to enter the event to get some competitive rounds ahead of the Test against India.

“The new Bobby Locke Open forms part of a three-event series in Central Gauteng that also includes the Central Gauteng Open and Harry Oppenheimer Trophy,” Stapleton said. “All three events carry Open Amateur ranking points, so I knew the top amateurs in the country would be coming up to compete in these events.

“As a working man I couldn’t take time off to compete in more than one tournament and the Test. I never missed one Bobby Locke Invitational since it launched some eight years ago, so I decided to play the new Bobby Locke Open for sentimental reasons.

“I didn’t have any expectations starting the tournament as my last start was the SA Mid-Amateur Inter-Provincial last month. I just wanted to get those competitive juices flowing again and find some form before we leave for India, but I’m so pleased with the outcome.

“I won’t lie, it was tough to play the 36 holes in the final round and even tougher to play against Garrick, who is only 16. I got really tired towards the end, but the birdies at 12 and 16 gave me the kick I needed to take it all the way to the finish line.

“I won a couple of mid-amateur tournaments this year, but to win against the top young amateurs in the country is really, really special. It felt really great to close out the win and justify my selection for the Test with a victory on the Open Amateur circuit.”

Stapleton was full of praise for Higgo, whom he chased for the first two rounds and then had to stave off over the last two.

“He is such a great young player,” Stapleton said. “He has a lot of heart and grit and he didn’t give an inch in those two final rounds. He kept me on my toes right up until the last putt dropped.”

Higgo edged ahead of the field with an opening 69 and kept the lead with a 68 in round two, but the reigning Curro SA Junior International Boys champion lost the top spot to Stapleton after carding a 73 in the third round.

“He stayed close, though, and I feared he would pounce when I had two double bogeys in the final round,” Stapleton said. “I got really unlucky at seven. I wanted to punch out low back to the fairway after I pulled my tee shot and the ball clipped a branch and finished in the water. I couldn’t believe it when my second shot hit a tree on the 10th and it went into the water again.

“We both had some chances down the back nine, but sometimes the putts just don’t drop. Garrick didn’t drop a shot over the last eight holes, but I holed a couple of crucial putts to stay ahead. I knew if I holed the par-putt at the last hole I would win and if I missed it, it would mean a play-off and I hit that last seven-footer perfectly.

“One of the things I hoped the youngsters could learn from me is that a 72-hole event is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You have to take some things like this in your stride. You can’t get thrown by bogeys or bad shots; you have to keep your head down and keep grinding.”

Stapleton leaves for India on 28 November with the fellow members of the SA Mid-Amateur team including Gerlou Roux, Josef Fourie and Stefan Blommaert, as well as a four-man Senior team that features reigning Indwe Risk Services SA Senior Stroke Play champion Steve Williams, Mellette Hendrikse, Francois le Roux and Morgan Phillips.

Higgo will have a shot at redemption in the Central Gauteng Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club from 18 – 20 November and the Harry Oppenheimer Trophy at Maccauvlei Golf Club from 22-24 November.

281 Shaun Stapleton 70 69 70 72
282 Garrick Higgo 69 68 73 72
288 Keanu Pestana 74 71 73 70; Brandon Cloete 72 71 72 73
291 Louis Albertse 73 68 78 72
292 Aneurin Gounden 76 73 72 71
293 Adriel Poonan 75 70 75 73; James Pennington 74 75 73 71
294 Matthew Kiewitz 75 74 74 71
295 Brody Leather 75 73 77 70; Therion Nel 75 73 77 70; Luke Jerling 74 76 75 70; Andre van Heerden (Jnr) 74 69 77 75; Steven le Roux 72 74 73 76

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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