HENDRIKSE EDGES KONZANI FOR NO 1 RANKING
Mellette Hendrikse had two tough rivals from the Eastern Cape to deal with in the 2015 senior amateur season. While he may have lost his No 1 national ranking and the SA Senior Amateur crown to Zola Konzani in October, the Gauteng North player from Akasia Country Club had regained the No 1 position by the end of the year to finish top of the table for a second consecutive year.
Hendrikse (right) limited himself to 10 tournament appearances in 2015, yet he still managed to win five times, and only once finished out of the top-5. That was a measure of his consistency over the year. His stroke average, though, was 74.26, almost a full shot higher than in 2014, when he won six times.
That higher stroke average was mostly due to tougher course conditions in the two major tournaments of the year, the 54-hole Senior Players at Sun City, where Hendrikse was runner-up to Morgan Phillips, and 72-hole SA Senior Amateur at Humewood, where he was T-3, a good distance behind winner Konzani.
In 2014, Hendrikse was more than 20 points ahead of second-placed Jock Wellington in the rankings, but this year there was just a 2.7-point margin between him and Konzani, the diminutive Eastern Province player, who won twice in 9 outings, and had eight top-5 finishes. His only “poor” performance came in the Players. He won the Senior Amateur on his home course at Humewood by 12 shots.
Konzani had a stroke average of 73.95, but being based at the coast he played a different schedule of tournaments to Hendrikse. They only came up against each other in four tournaments, the Players and SA Senior Amateur, plus two September 36-holers in KZN. The outcome was 2-2 in terms of finishes. Their only head-to-head battle was at Durban CC in
the KZN Spring Classic, where Hendrikse shot 74 in the second round to edge Konzani (76) by one.
One of the standout players of the year was rookie senior Mzuyanda Zingela (Uitenhage), who has played provincial golf continuously for Eastern Province since he was in his 20s. This year he represented EP in three Interprovincials – the Senior IPT, Mid-Amateur IPT, and Premier IPT. Zingela won three times in 11 tournaments, was twice a runner-up, and had 10 top-10s. He had the best stroke average of 73.67. His only “disappointment” was a seventh-place finish in the SA Senior Amateur in his home town of Port Elizabeth.
The most improved player of the year was Hendrikse’s Gauteng North teammate William Skinner (Zwartkop), who climbed 13 places up the rankings from No 19 to No 6. After gaining his maiden victory at the end of 2014, he won twice in 2015, and was twice a runner-up, including a playoff loss to Hendrikse in the North West Open. He had 10 top-10s in 16 appearances.
Other improved players included Konzani, up from No 6 to No 2; Lynton Beckett (Royal Durban), from No 18 to No 10; Brian Mampies (Parow), from No 21 to No 13; and Gavin van Aswegen (Eye of Africa), from No 22 to No 16.
The other multiple winners in 2015 were Basil Naidoo (KZN), who held on to his fifth place in the rankings for a second consecutive year, and Ekurhuleni rookie Duncan Neill, who had back-to-back successes at Kimberley and Witbank.
Neill and Zingela are two of 11 newcomers in the top 25 of the rankings compared to the 2014 season.
There were 24 tournaments in 2015, and they were won by 14 different players. Among the winners were Super Seniors (60+) Ian Smith (Houghton) and Adrian Kriel (Wingate Park), both at the end of the year in the final two events, plus Irishman Garth McGimpsey back in February. Eight titles went to Gauteng North players, five to EP, and three to KZN.
There was a good balance of provincial representation in the top 25 of the rankings at the end of the year. Gauteng North again had the most with five players, down from seven in 2014, while Central Gauteng again had four, with three apiece from KZN, WP and Ekurhuleni. Four Super Seniors in the top 25 were Wellington and Van Aswegen from Central Gauteng, Kriel and North West’s Christo Reyneke.
The “iron men” of the senior circuit were again Christie le Roux and Ramon Rahme, playing in 21 of the 24 events, while Ian Smith took part in 20.