Westlake’s Russell eager to continue his winning ways
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.