West­lake’s Rus­sell ea­ger to con­tinue his winning ways

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

CAPE am­a­teur golfer Aaron Rus­sell has set his sights on winning na­tional colours this year.

The 24-year-old West­lake mem­ber ap­pears headed in the right di­rec­tion af­ter a great start to the new sea­son with a twoshot victory at the pres­ti­gious 72hole Prince’s Grant Na­tional Am­a­teur.

But the West­ern Prov­ince A team player was made to work hard to se­cure his maiden am­a­teur ti­tle.

Hav­ing built up a use­ful twoshot lead through 54 holes, he lost his lead to lo­cal mem­ber Chris van der Merwe af­ter eight holes of the fi­nal round.

Rus­sell hit back with back-to­back birdies at the ninth and 10th and re­gained the lead when Van der Merwe dou­ble-bo­geyed the par-three 11th.

Rus­sell, who had opted to hit irons off the tee through­out to keep his ball in play on a tight lay­out, must have thought his tour­na­ment was over when he en­dured a night­mare on the par5 15th hole.

Both tee shots ended out of bounds as he posted a quadru­ple nine. But he was able to re­group and struck back with a bril­liant birdie two at 17 to take a four-shot lead into the fi­nal hole.

It was an­other shaker for him as he dou­ble bo­geyed, but in the end it counted for lit­tle with the chas­ing pack un­able to mount any sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge dur­ing the lat­ter stages.

Rus­sell was back in action yes­ter­day at the Kwa-Zulu Natal Open be­ing played at Sel­borne.

West­ern Prov­ince Golf Di­rec­tor Eric Lef­son was full of praise for Rus­sell who he de­scribes as the lead­ing am­a­teur in the WP Cape.

“The boy’s got the full pack­age,” he said. “He’s a like­able young man. His record for WP at the In­ter-Dis­tricts is un­blem­ished in the sin­gles for mat. He’s come close on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions in big events, so winning this ti­tle will be a big boost for him per­son­ally.”

Rus­sell fin­ished run­ner-up in the WP Am­a­teur in 2008 and in 2009 held the three-round lead at the SA Stroke­play Cham­pi­onships.

He works for a liv­ing as a mar­ket­ing as­sis­tant for equip­ment com­pany Tay­lor Made-adi­das, who spare him the time to com- pete in as many na­tional tour­na­ments as pos­si­ble.

But will he choose to stay in the un­paid ranks? “It’s ev­ery man’s dream to make a liv­ing out of some­thing they love do­ing,” said Rus­sell. “I would love to play golf to earn a liv­ing.

“Winning my first am­a­teur ti­tle left me feel­ing re­ally happy about things. My goal now is to crack the top 10 rank­ings and then earn my na­tional colours.”

● The rain-af­fected Clovelly Open will be played on Sun­day, with hopes pinned on res­i­dent mem­ber Josh De Klerk winning his first se­nior am­a­teur ti­tle.

The gifted scratch hand­i­cap­per, who is in grade 11 at Wyn­berg Boys, has al­ready won his pro­vin­cial colours at Un­der-23 level. He has also earned na­tional colours at Un­der-16 level.

EYE­ING THE BIG TIME: Aaron Rus­sell’s mak­ing his mark.

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