21 October 2021 – Former SA Mid-Amateur champion Graeme Watson will vie for the unique double after a classy second round performance moved the Ebotse senior within striking distance of the SA Senior Amateur Championship leaders on Thursday.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Lyall McNeill and Tom Sweigart from Qatar mastered the tougher conditions at Glendower Golf Club on moving day, carding successive rounds of 73 to share the lead on two-over-par 146.
A charge from afternoon starter Watson saw the 54-old leap ahead on the crowded leaderboard and he was one-over with two holes to play when disaster struck.
“I played nicely for most of the day; the greens were tough and there was quite a bit of wind. At the eighth I had a fairway in my hand, but the wind was playing so hard off the left and I changed to the driver.
“Unfortunately, I drove it in the water left and I hit a poor shot from there and ended making a double bogey. That wasn’t a great finish to the day, but I would have been pleased with a 72 when I started, so I am happy with where I positioned myself.”
McNeill, who leads the GolfRSA Senior Rankings, is making his debut in the SA Senior Amateur and he could be a tough man to beat. In his five starts this season, the Durban Country Club golfer has won a trio of titles and was the runner-up twice.
Watson believes he can chase down McNeill, but he will have to limit his mistakes.
“I definitely think I am going to have to play well to get it done,” he said. “One of the leaders is Lyall, whom I’ve played with quite a few times. He is a helluva good player. I don’t know Tom at all, so if I want to win, I am going to have to play really well.
“I will have to take some of the bad shots I hit over the first couple of days out of the game. You can’t hit shots like that and win a tournament of this stature. So, if I can keep those bad shots off the cards, I have a chance.”
McNeill found the going on the greens a little tougher on day two, but he is feeling comfortable with his game and his chances to win on debut.
“The greens were definitely a little bit faster, and the pin placements were a bit tougher,” said the 50-year-old.
“I struck the ball well and the putter was warm, but I did let a few shots slip. My best save of the day was definitely at the fifth, where I hit a bad drive and got a bad kick. I had to carve a 6-iron about 20 meters around some trees, and then made a brilliant up-and-down from there. I made two good birdies on 13 and 14 to get to 1-over, but unfortunately, I bogeyed the final hole.
“All in though, it was a pretty solid round. It’s going to be a tough match against Graeme; he is a very strong player with a really good short game. I’ll need to hit a few more fairways than I have been hitting and try to avoid any big numbers to hopefully have a shout coming down the back nine.”
Meanwhile the South African pair would do well to keep an eye on Sweigart.
The 64-year-old golfer turned four-over after a bogey on 17 and a double on the 18th, but he played his way back into contention with a trio of birdies coming home.
Chasing the leaders are Rustenburg golfer Johan Krugel and Kyalami Country Club’s Greg Gleeson on four-over, with Kevin Monk, who plays out of Benoni Country Club and Zwartkop senior Leon Scheepers a further shot adrift.
First round leader Neil Homann will aim to turn his tournament around after carding 80. The Bryanston golfer is eight shots off the pace in a tie for 8th with Modderfontein’s Blaine Mancer.
SECOND ROUND LEADERS (top 20)
146 Lyall McNeill 73 73; Tom Sweigart QAT 73 73
147 Graeme Watson 75 72
148 Johan Krugel 75 73; Greg Gleeson 72 76
149 Kevin Monk 77 72; Leon Scheepers (Snr) 73 76
150 Blaine Mancer 77 73; Neil Homann 70 80
151 Gordon Wessels 79 72; Henk Geldenhuys 73 78
152 Brian Naidoo 78 74; Schalk Naude 77 75
153 Johann Nel 82 71; Rurik Gobel 80 73; Henry Trevena 76 77; Adolf van der Merwe 76 77; Tony Bailey 75 78; Keith Forde 75 78; Cameron Johnston 75 78; Andre van Dyk 75 78; Norman Phillips 75 78; Stephen Johnston 73 80