Scotland’s Craig Ross made it a double for his country when he beat South Africa’s Dylan Naidoo to win the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship at George Golf Club on Friday. Ross beat Central Gauteng’s Naidoo 3&1 in the final. Ross’s triumph is the second successive victory by a Scottish golfer in one of South Africa’s premier amateur tournaments, and the fourth win by a Scottish golfer in the last six Sanlam SA Amateur Championships.
It also marks a clean sweep by the Scots this year, with Ross’s countryman Rory Franssen taking the Proudfoot Trophy for the winner of the 36-hole stroke play qualifier earlier in the week. And it completes a run of foreign dominance of South Africa’s premier amateur events over the past few weeks, with Irishman Jack Hume winning the South African Stroke Play Championship last month. The 23-year-old Ross says: ‘This win means a lot to me. I’ve been playing well all week and I’m just over the moon to win this trophy. I knew playing Dylan would be a tough game. I’d been looking at his scorecards and he’d been playing well. I knew I had to play great golf to win.’
Ross came through the first 18 holes at 2Up. It had been a close contest until his birdies at 17 and 18 gave him the edge going into the afternoon’s 18. The Scot birdied the second and fourth holes to move 4Up.
But Naidoo fought back and took holes seven and eight with big birdie putts while Ross bogeyed nine to see the South African only 1Down at the turn. Ross birdied 11 and then holed his wedge for eagle on the par-four 12th. Naidoo kept playing his best golf though, making four straight birdies from the 12th.
But Ross’s birdies on 16 and 17 sealed the win for him. Ross says: ‘Dylan was holing a couple of lengthy putts, so me holing that shot at the 12th helped a lot to get the momentum back on my side and get me pumped up for the last few holes.’ The 18-year-old Naidoo walked away feeling he’d done everything he possibly could to try and win on his first appearance in the final.
He says: ‘This was probably the best match play game I’ve ever been involved with. When you get to the final you expect a nervous start but Craig was on point from the first hole. It was unbelievable. I really fought as hard as I could and left everything on the golf course. I played as well as I could’ve and just got beat today.’
Photo credit: Pieter Els