Van Wyk jets to Joburg Junior Open lead
The end of the 2015 season just couldn’t come quick enough for Central Gauteng junior Keelan van Wyk. Other than third in the Dimension Data Junior Open and a top 10 at the Nomads SA Boys Under-17 Championship, he had the kind of season he just wanted to write off. But all that could change if the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation golfer can stretch his one stroke lead to victory in the Joburg Junior Open on Friday.
The 17-year-old Ruimsig junior went back to the basics and blitzed the East Course in 67 strokes to take the top spot in the 36-hole season-finale at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington.
He finished one stroke clear from Gregory McKay from KwaZulu-Natal and is two strokes ahead of the four-man tie at three under.
“I have been struggling to build more distance off the tee all season long and that has been my sole focus,” Van Wyk said.
“I’m pretty accurate off tee, so coming into the last event, I decided to forget about distance and to just play to my strengths. When I hit every green in regulation in the first five holes, I knew I made the right decision.”
Van Wyk broke the par-run with a pair of birdies at six and seven and notched a hat-trick of birdies from 11 to get to five under. He gave one back with a three-putt bogey 15, but erased the damage with a superb up-and-down from the greenside bunker at 18.
“It was nice to interrupt that run of pars at the start with back-to-back birdies, because up to that point I had shaved a few holes,” Van Wyk said.
“I hit a good approach quite close at six and made a tricky 30-footer at seven to get the momentum going. I hit some great approaches into 11, 12 and 13 to set up birdie chances, but I missed a short one at 14 for birdie.
“I had a 35-foot uphill putt at 15 and hit the first putt too fast and it raced two meters past the hole. Then I missed the return. At 18, I went bunker to bunker from the fairway, but I was able to up-and-down for the birdie.”
His playing partner McKay mixed birdies at three, four, nine, 11 and 12 with a lone drop at eight.
“Greg and I were edging each other on and it was nice having a kind of match play situation, because it helped me focus better,” Van Wyk said.
“It was a really great round in conditions perfect for scoring. The course is in wonderful shape and the greens are running really well. The course set-up was nice, too, with a good mixture of pins. I’m not surprised to see a lot of the country’s top ranked juniors inside the top 20 and I know they will be coming for me on Friday.”
Reigning number one raked junior Ross Sinclair finished in the group at three under with fellow Gauteng North golfer David Opperman, Matt Saulez from KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Province’s Dehan Joubert.
Sentanio Minnie from Ekurhuleni, who won the Africa Junior Open, is a further stroke back alongside Gauteng North trio Jan-Louis Nel, Dino Capazario and Glacier Junior Series National Final champion Keegan Mclachlan, as well as Marco Steyn from Central Gauteng.
Central Gauteng Open champion Dylan Mostert from Ekurhuleni, Liam McIlroy from KwaZulu-Natal, Tristan Maharaj from Central Gauteng and Christo Lamprecht from Southern Cape complete the top 15 who managed to break par at the home of the Sunshine Tour’s Joburg Open.
Angus Klintworth just missed out on a top 15 spot, but his round was certainly one of the most memorable.
The Randpark Golf Club player eagled not one, not two but three of the par-fives on the East Course on his way to an opening level-par 72. Klintworth claimed his hat-trick of big birds at the first, sixth and 18th and added a birdie at 17, but gave back seven shots to finish in a tie for 16th with Tiaan Maree from North West.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.