HISTORY AT HUME­WOOD FOR KONZANI

First black golfer to win the SA Se­nior Ama­teur.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Amateur Scene -

Zola Konzani re­sem­bled Tiger Woods in his prime as the 55-year-old de­mol­ished the cream of South African se­nior golf in the Indwe Risk Ser­vices SA Se­nior Ama­teur at Hume­wood. He’s the first black golfer to win the na­tional tro­phy.

Woods won the 2000 US Open by 15 shots at Peb­ble Beach, and Konzani was equally mas­ter­ful in the East­ern Cape, his mar­gin of vic­tory be­ing a record 12 shots on the first oc­ca­sion that the cham­pi­onship had been played over 72 holes.

Hume­wood is one of our most de­mand­ing lay­outs, es­pe­cially when the wind is up, and just nine play­ers broke 300 for the four days. Yet the diminu­tive Konzani, on his home course, went un­der par in three rounds to post an im­pres­sive to­tal of six-un­der­par 282. He opened with a 67, and never re­lin­quished his lead, be­ing two ahead af­ter day one, seven ahead af­ter 36 holes, and tak­ing an eight­shot ad­van­tage into the fi­nal day.

Konzani goes to No 1 on the rank­ings with this vic­tory, only his third on the Se­nior Ama­teur cir­cuit, hav­ing won the Southern Cape ti­tle ear­lier this year, and the East­ern Prov­ince Open in 2014. He sur­pris­ingly dis­places Mel­lette Hen­drikse (Aka­sia), who falls to No 2 de­spite hav­ing won five ti­tles this year, in­clud­ing the re­cent North West Se­nior Open. Hen­drikse, de­fend­ing the ti­tle he won at Pe­can­wood last year, re­cov­ered from a dis­ap­point­ing 82 in the par­tic­u­larly windy sec­ond round (the av­er­age score was 83 and the 36-hole cut was 161) to share third place in the cham­pi­onship.

An­other EP player, Mzuyanda Zin­gela (Uiten­hage),

climbs to No 3 on the rank­ings af­ter a top-10 fin­ish at Hume­wood.

Konzani first at­tracted na­tional at­ten­tion with a T-5 fin­ish in the 2013 Se­nior Ama­teur at Fan­court, and was sixth last year at Pe­can­wood.

At Hume­wood, he had 15 birdies dur­ing the week (the same num­ber as Hen­drikse), off­set by seven bo­geys and one dou­ble-bo­gey, at the dif­fi­cult par-4 tenth in the fi­nal round. “The tough­est holes at Hume­wood are 10 and 13,” he said. “I al­ways play for a five at 10, but tried to force an un­playable putt into the hole and ended up three-putting. A birdie at 11 and par at 13 took the sting away though.”

Konzani, the first EP golfer to claim the SA Se­nior Ama­teur tro­phy, has an abun­dance of en­ergy for golf. He had played 10 rounds the pre­vi­ous week, rep­re­sent­ing EP in the Mid-Ama­teur In­ter­provin­cial at East Lon­don. EP won the B sec­tion there, and Konzani won all seven of his sin­gles matches. “That was an un­be­liev­able week for us, but my vic­tory at Hume­wood is the big­gest achieve­ment of my golf­ing ca­reer. This is my ma­jor, and when I saw all the peo­ple around the green at 18 on the fi­nal day, it really hit home how big this is,” he said.

Western Prov­ince’s Brian Mamp­ies (Parow) pro­duced four steady rounds, with 13 birdies, to take sec­ond place on his own on 294. A shot fur­ther back were Hen­drikse and fel­low Gaut­eng North player Wil­liam Skin­ner (Zwartkop), with Schalk Naude (Rand­park) fifth on 296.

The most dis­ap­pointed player on the fi­nal day was Kevin Cur­ren (Dur­ban Coun­try Club), who thought he had fin­ished in the top 10, be­fore be­ing dis­qual­i­fied for sign­ing an in­cor­rect score­card. Cur­ren, af­ter an open­ing 69, fol­lowed up with two 75s to share sec­ond place with Mamp­ies af­ter 54 holes. He signed for a 3 in­stead of a 4 on the 14th.

Cur­ren played with Konzani the last two days and nick­named him “Umthakathi” – the ma­gi­cian. “He is a ma­gi­cian around the greens,” said the for­mer ten­nis star. “It’s only when you play with him that you can truly ap­pre­ci­ate his in­cred­i­ble short game skills.”

Gavin van Aswe­gen (Eye of Africa), the Se­nior Ama­teur cham­pion in 2013, won the Su­per Se­nior (60+) ti­tle at Hume­wood, fin­ish­ing ninth over­all on 299.

BACK TO 54 HOLES IN 2017

The SA Se­nior Ama­teur will re­vert to a 54-hole cham­pi­onship at Nel­spruit Golf Club in Oc­to­ber, 2016. The 72-hole ex­per­i­ment at Hume­wood was not uni­ver­sally pop­u­lar, and the fi­nal en­try was just 127 play­ers, the low­est it has ever been. The SAGA have also an­nounced that the 2016 IPT has been moved from East Lon­don to Johannesburg, and will be played at Kil­lar­ney and Wan­der­ers golf clubs in April. The East Lon­don clubs did not have enough golf carts avail­able for the tour­na­ment.

Zola Konzani lapped the field at Hume­wood.

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