Reigning South African Stroke Play champion Jason Smith held off a determined challenge from Gauteng’s Matthew Spacey to win the Ekurhuleni Open Stroke Play Championship by one stroke at Germiston Golf Club on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Irene golfer, who debuted for South Africa at the World Amateur Team Championships in Japan last month, carded rounds of 68 and 67 to grab a share of the 36-hole lead with Gauteng North SA Inter-Provincial team mate, Hendrikus Stoop.
The pair led by four from Andrew van der Knaap, another recent starter for Gauteng North at the SA IPT, sponsored by Tempest, at Westlake.
Smith carded a third round 73 to lead at eight under, but Spacey, who lagged five shots off the pace, fired a 69 to move within a shot of leader.
Smith reeled in two birdies early in the final round, and kept clear of the pack with a string of pars through nine holes before racking in another birdie at the par-five 13th.
Although the TuksSport Golf Academy member stumbled near the end of his round with bogeys at the 15th and 17th, a birdie at the 16th and par at the short 18th helped Smith to a one shot victory on 10-under-par 278.
Spacey also racked up five birdies, but his bid for victory derailed with bogeys at the 16th and 18th.
The Dainfern golfer closed with a 70 to take second on 279 and finished two strokes clear of Van der Knaap, who returned round of 71, 68, 71 and 71.
Meanwhile Stoop (69 66 76 71) took fourth on 282 and Southern Cape’s Jade Buitendag (72 69 70 72) interrupted Gauteng North’s stronghold to finish fifth on six-under-par 282.
Kyle McClatchie and NJ Arnoldi were the two best placed Ekurhuleni golfers. The pair tied for seventh with former Sanlam SA Amateur champion, Ryan Dreyer, on two under 286.
Smith was absolutely delighted with the result.
“What a result for TuksSport Golf Academy to get first, second, third and fourth,” the country’s number four ranked amateur said.
“I’m sure our coaches will want to celebrate this remarkable achievement! And a great show for Gauteng North, as well. The last month has been full of disappointments, so this was a great turnaround for me.
“It was especially great having my dad watch me win, since he missed the SA Stroke Play.”
Smith received a late call-up for the World Amateur Team Championship and was very frustrated with his performance at the Eisenhower Trophy in Japan.
“When I got back, we discovered that the lofts on all my clubs were out.” Smit said.
“We think it happened during the trip to Japan, but the guys from Srixon were fantastic and they sorted it all out for me. I played a lot better at the SA IPT in Cape Town, but losing our title defence and getting demoted was a bitter pill to swallow.
“So it really feels great to come through another tough tournament and walk away with the trophy. The challenge out there was fantastic. The course was tough but in great shape and the guys really edged each other on. They kept up the pressure and I’m really proud of the way I protected my lead to win.”
TOP 10 GOLF RESULTS
278 Jason Smith 68 67 73 70
279 Matthew Spacey 69 71 69 70
281 Andrew van der Knaap 71 68 71 71
282 Hendrikus Stoop 69 66 76 71
283 Jade Buitendag 72 69 70 72
285 Jason Viljoen 69 75 70 71
286 Kyle McClatchie 72 70 72 72; Ryan Dreyer 71 74 70 71; NJ Arnoldi 71 70 74 71
287 Stefan Cronje 74 72 70 71; Paul Boshoff 71 72 74 70