Big-hitting Aubrey Beckley from North West is itching to start the 2016 Sanlam SA Amateur Championship after closing out an emphatic five stroke victory in the Sanlam Cape Province Open on Thursday. The Potchefstroom golfer denied defending champion James Du Preez repeat success in the 72-hole curtain-raiser when he fired a blistering third round 64 and a flawless final round 65 at Kingswood Golf Estate to triumph on 20-under-par 268. Gauteng North’s Du Preez returned a third round 66 and carded 64 in the final round to take second, while 36-hole leader Herman Loubser from Boland settled in third on 274 with rounds of 67 and 71.
Beckley opened with a 69 at Kingswood and carded a second round 70 at George Golf Club to start the third round three strokes off the pace. The 22-year-old followed an eagle start at Kingswood with a lone bogey and seven birdies to grab a share of joint second with Loubser at 13 under. The pair headed into the final round two strokes behind recent African Amateur Stroke Play champion Albert Venter, who rocketed into pole position with a flawless 64.
Beckley immediately reduced the gap on the 54-hole leader with a birdie at the par five opening hole and tied Venter for the lead after the Gauteng North player bogeyed the par three second. The HPC TuksGolf Academy player replaced Venter at the top of the leaderboard with his second birdie at the par five third. He notched a quartet of birdies from the sixth hole to turn 19 under and interrupted a run of straight pars down the back nine at Kingswood just once when he holed a birdie putt the par five 15th.
Now the North West golfer hopes to convert the rich vein of form to more success in the South African Golf Association’s flagship event, which tees off with a 36-hole qualifier at George Golf Club on Sunday. Beckley says: ‘My putter was pretty cold in the first few events this season, so my coach Emile Steinmann and I worked on a couple of things to improve my rhythm and stroke. The putts started dropping this week and I was striking the ball really well, too. I made a good start and I felt that I could challenge. My game plan for the last two rounds at Kingswood was to target the par fives and the shorter par fours on the front nine. The back nine is tough and you have to treat it with respect, so I took a more conservative approach and it paid off. I managed to give myself a decent cushion going into the last nine holes and I kept it going. George Golf Club is going to require a different approach. It’s a very traditional course with tight fairways and small greens, but I take a lot of confidence out of the way that I’m striking the ball and how I am putting. If I can keep going like this, I look forward to another solid week.’
268 Aubrey Beckley 69 70 64 65
273 James Du Preez 76 67 66 64
274 Herman Loubser 65 71 67 71
275 Marco Steyn 70 68 68 69; Albert Venter 70 67 64 74; Dylan Naidoo 69 69 70 67
276 Matt Saulez 69 70 69 68
Photo credit: Pieter Els