NO1 REIGNS AT PE­CAN­WOOD

Mel­lette Hen­drikse sets a cham­pi­onship record with his sec­ond Indwe SA Se­nior Am­a­teur ti­tle in the last three years.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Amateur Scene -

MEL­LETTE HEN­DRIKSE capped a su­perb year in tour­na­ment golf by win­ning the Indwe Risk Ser­vices SA Se­nior Am­a­teur at Pe­can­wood by five shots. It was his sixth ti­tle of 2014, and the 54-year-old from Aka­sia Coun­try Club in Pre­to­ria looks set for a long reign as the No 1 se­nior in the land.

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously won the SA Se­nior Am­a­teur ti­tle at Win­gate Park in 2012, Hen­drikse is one of only three play­ers to have won mul­ti­ple na­tional crowns in the last 20 years. Jock Wellington claimed three be­tween 2001 and 2008, and Manie Grob­ler was a back-to-back cham­pion in 1999-2000.

Speak­ing of Wellington, the 63-yearold from Kyalami con­tin­ues to rise to the oc­ca­sion in big events, clinch­ing a share of sec­ond place at Pe­can­wood with Chris Del­port and main­tain­ing his re­mark­able record in this cham­pi­onship. He was the Su­per Se­nior cham­pion (60+) for a sec­ond time, and has had nine top-3 fin­ishes in 14 ap­pear­ances. And he had his 10th ca­reer ace at Pe­can­wood’s wa­ter-edged 13th hole in round two. Four years ago he had an ace in the cham­pi­onship at Rand­park.

Hen­drikse’s 54-hole to­tal of eigh­tun­der-par 208 on the Jack Nick­laus de­sign es­tate lay­out, rounds of 68-7070, was a record for the cham­pi­onship, beat­ing the 211 to­tal first set by Grob­ler at ERPM in 1999 and matched by Wellington at Bloem­fontein in 2006.

It was the first time since 2006 that the Se­nior Am­a­teur had been played at the same course for all three rounds, in­stead of on two cour­ses. While this ap­peared a sound decision for the best se­nior play­ers, it was not uni­ver­sally popular. Those en­trants who didn’t make it into the field for Pe­can­wood (6 hand­i­cap and lower) had to play at nearby Ma­galies­park in the “B” sec­tion. Many with­drew, leav­ing just 47 to contest this Sta­ble­ford event.

As a re­sult, the to­tal num­ber of en­tries was 189, com­pared to over 300 in George a year ago. Next year the cham­pi­onship will re­vert to us­ing two cour­ses for all com­peti­tors. It will be hosted by East­ern Prov­ince, at the St Fran­cis Links and St Fran­cis Bay cour­ses.

Hen­drikse had 12 birdies and one ea­gle, off­set by just six bo­geys, over the three rounds at Pe­can­wood. He was eight-un­der for the par 5s, us­ing his length off the tee to good ef­fect in the dry con­di­tions. His open­ing 68 wasn’t good enough for first day hon­ours though, as Jo­han Marais (Fan­court) had eight birdies in a 67.

Del­port, 54, had back-to-back 69s to be­gin the cham­pi­onship (in­clud­ing birdies at the tough 18th in both rounds), and the Zwartkop mem­ber, ear­lier this year elected chair­man of the SA Se­nior Golf As­so­ci­a­tion, shared the 36-hole lead with Hen­drikse, his Gaut­eng North team-mate.

“Mel­lette is the tour­na­ment favourite, and all the pres­sure is on him,” said Del­port be­fore the fi­nal round. “I once played

a league match against a young Rory Sab­ba­tini. I told him: ‘Young­ster, if you beat me to­day, all the guys will say hard luck, but if I beat you, they will call it a ma­jor up­set.’ That’s how I see my chances.”

Wellington and Marais were two shots back on 140, with No 2-ranked Mor­gan Phillips on 142 after two 71s.

Del­port wasn’t able to make a birdie in the fi­nal round, but steady par golf kept him within one shot of Hen­drikse un­til the 14th. The Aka­sia player then went birdie-par-birdie over the next three holes to surge ahead. A cru­cial hole was the 15th, where Hen­drikse holed a long putt to save par, and Del­port three-putted. He fin­ished the round with bo­geys at 15 and 18.

Marais hung on for fourth place, ahead of Phillips, while East­ern Prov­ince’s Zola Kon­zani showed that last year’s T-5 in the rain-short­ened cham­pi­onship at Fan­court was no fluke by tak­ing sixth place on this oc­ca­sion.

“It’s been an amaz­ing year for me,” said Hen­drikse, who failed to win a ti­tle in 2013, and who has now won 11 times since turn­ing 50. “I’ve never hit the ball bet­ter, es­pe­cially my long irons, and my short game has been com­ing along nicely. I put my­self within birdie dis­tance through­out the tour­na­ment. Hav­ing my wife Angie on the bag in the fi­nal round made this vic­tory es­pe­cially mem­o­rable.”

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