Wayne Westner gave son Matt a single piece of advice before the 22-year-old teed it up in this week’s final Race to the Asian Q-School event at the Wanderers Golf Club. Be patient, Westner said. Practice, work hard, but above all, be patient.
But not even the former European Tour winner could predict just how much a gusting south-westerly wind would test the field’s patience in Tuesday’s first round.
Only one player, local amateur, Bryn Flanagan, managed an even-par 71 at the former home of the Sunshine Tour’s PGA Championship, but Westner would be happy to learn that Matt finished just one shot off the pace in a tie for second.
“The wind was gusting up to 35 kilometers an hour and it was constantly changing direction,” the young Westner said.
“We would get to a tee box and all three of us would be hitting in a different shot. The greens are so small, and the course is very tight. When you throw in the wind, it doesn’t surprise me that no-one broke par. It was a very tough day out there and patience was absolutely key.”
Flanagan dropped three shots in his first eight holes, but turned the tide with a birdie at the par-four ninth. Two more gains at the two par fives and five straight pars from the 14th saw him home in even-par
“This course wasn’t built to handle the wind,” Flanagan said. “The greens are elevated and postage stamp size. You can’t control the spin on the ball when you are pitching upwards in this kind of wind.
“Par is your friend in conditions like these, so forget about the heroics; just play percentage golf.”
Westner racked up four birdies, an eagle, five bogeys and a double bogey at the par-four 16th to tie for second with Rae Mackie and amateur Simon Kruger and his card was a lot more colourful.
“It definitely wasn’t pretty,” the Eagle Canyon golfer observed
“I’m glad that I kept myself in contention, though, because every guy is gunning for that last spot to the Asian Tour Qualifying School this week.
“The conditions made it tough on everyone. If it keeps pumping like this, it will get really interesting.”
Westner turned pro on the back of a solid amateur career and competed on the IGT Tour two years ago, but called it quits after a few months.
“I wasn’t even sure if this was what I wanted,” he said. “I was going to do the PGA diploma, but put that on hold, too, while I figured out what I wanted.”
He returned to KwaZulu-Natal, where he worked and played the IGT Tour back home.
His father, who runs a coaching academy at Selborne Park Golf Club, encouraged him to try again.
“I moved back to Gauteng and began working in the automotive industry,” Westner said.
“I joined Johan Dreyer, who owns Envirolamps. We built cars and I really enjoyed the experience, but I wanted to get back to pro golf. Johan offered to sponsor me.
“My head is in the right place this time, though. I know I need patience. It happens really quickly for a handful of guys, but for the majority of us, it’s a long and hard grind.
“I’m happy to put in the time, this time around. But I have to admit, I would love that spot to Asia to get some international experience…what an opportunity.”
FIRST ROUND SCORES
71 – Bryn Flanagan (AMA)
72 – Matt Westner, Rae Mackie, Simon Kruger (AMA)
73 – JP Schmidt (AMA), Tyron Mc Comb, John McClean NIR
74 – Bryandrew Roelofsz, Hennie Du Plessis (AMA), TJ Bekker, Terence Boardman
75 – Matthew Kiewitz (AMA), Dongkwan Kim, Calvin Caldeira (AMA)
76 – Pieter Van der Linde (AMA), Andi Dill (AMA), Alwyn Vorster, Antonio Rosado POR, David Lamprecht
77 – Marco De Beer (AMA), Paul Cuningham, Andrew McLardy, Christiaan Pretorius, Neal Herman (AMA), Coert Groenewald, Shaun van Tonder, Jabulani Nkosi (AMA)
78 – Jacqui Akers (AMA), Lean Boezaart, Zabastian De Jager (AMA), Dwayne Coetzee, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA), Philip Geerts ITA (AMA)
79 – Jacques Ungerer, Werner Van Niekerk, Russel Franz
80 – Niel Meyer (AMA)
81 – Francesca Cuturi, Wayne du Toit
82 – Byron Garvie, Lourens Du Plessis (AMA), Stephan Erasmus (AMA), Robert Herselman FRA, David Nortje (AMA)
83 – Creag Donaldson (AMA), Pierre Viviers, David Rebelo (AMA)
85 – Tim Garner
87 – James Garlinge (AMA), Glen James de Waal
93 – Werner Lourens (AMA)
107 – Charles Grobler (AMA)
WDN – Daniel Joubert (AMA)