HISTORY AT HUMEWOOD FOR KONZANI
First black golfer to win the SA Senior Amateur.
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.