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Nienaber nails Nomads hat-trick

03 Jul 2017

Wilco Nienaber with Jeff Clause and Tinus Keller from St Francis Links; credit David Younge.

Big-hitting Wilco Nienaber made the most of the sunny conditions at St Francis Links to reel in his third Nomads title this season in the Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal on Monday.

Nienaber was three off the pace from Luke Mayo after an opening 74, but when the KwaZulu-Natal junior faltered in the final round, Nienaber pounced with an even-par 72 to clinch a one-shot victory on two over 146.

The victory takes his winning tally to six this season, including two turns in the winner’s circle on the Global Junior Golf Tour and a breakthrough win on the Open Amateur circuit.

The GolfRSA National Squad player kicked off 2017 with a trophy finish in the season-opening Nomads National Order of Merit Inland in Benoni in January. Victory in the Northern Cape Open followed in early March and later the same month, the 17-year-old from Bloemfontein defeated Garrick Higgo in a play-off for the Curro SA Juniors International title.

In April, Nienaber fired a final round 66 for a two shot victory in the Nomads North and South National Order of Merit in Bloemfontein that rocketed him into the top five of the South African Golf Association’s Junior Rankings.

The Curro win earned Nienaber a berth in the RB German Junior Masters in May, where he made the most of the trip to Germany to beat a top international field for his second Global Junior Golf Tour trophy.

Looking to add to his silverware haul in the Sunshine Tour Junior Series, Nienaber was pleased to find some form before the Dimension Data Junior Open tees off at Fancourt on Wednesday.

“It’s great to head back to George coming off a win, because I’m keen to improve on last year,” he said.

“I was going along nicely after rounds of 74 and 72, but I a shocking final round 81, and that really disappointed me. I won the Nomads SA Boys U-17 Championship the next week at Kingswood, so I’m going back to George with positive vibes after this win. My goal last year was to try and win one of the Sunshine Tour Junior Opens, but I never did, so it’s a really big goal this season.”

Nienaber was three under and in the lead in the first round at St Francis Links but a costly eight at the par four ninth put paid to his challenge.

“The tee was forward and we were playing into the teeth of the wind, so I went with the driver to give myself a shorter distance into the hole,” he explained. “I hit my tee shot right into the bush, the first provisional left into the bush and the second provisional down the middle. We couldn’t find the first or second balls, so I walked off with an eight.

“Then I hit six-iron into the hazard in front of the green at 16. I took the drop, pitched it to 20 feet and three-putted for seven on the par five.”

In the final round, he cancelled a pair of bogeys on the front nine with back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh holes. He erased a brace of bogeys at 10 and 11 with birdies at 12 and 13 to remain level for the round, but a birdie between bogeys at 15 and 17 saw Nienaber head to the final hole tied for the lead with Mayo, Christo Lamprecht and NJ Botha.

“I knew I needed a birdie at 18 to win,” he said. “I had 119 metres left after my tee shot. The 18th green has three tiers and the pin was tucked on the middle tier. Luke also hit a great drive and he flagged his second, but it spun back off the green.

“Knowing that I needed to counter the spin, I hit a half-shot with a gap-wedge and it pitched the flag and spun back to three feet and I made the putt to win.”

Mayo parred 18 for a 76 for a share of second with Lamprecht and Botha, who closed with respective rounds of 70 and 71.

Final Result (top 10)
146 Wilco Nienaber 74 72
147 Christo Lamprecht 77 70; NJ Botha 76 71; Luke Mayo 71 76
150 Werner Deyzel 81 69; Reece Haikney 77 73; Martin Vorster 76 74
151 Tyron Davidowitz 81 70; Ryan van Velzen 75 76; Ben van Wyk 74 77
152 Kian Rose 80 72
153 Ayden Senger 80 73; Casey Jarvis 77 76
154 Warwick Purchase 81 73; Samuel Simpson 78 76; Calvin Maia 75 79
155 Dandre Spies 81 74; Kieron van Wyk 80 75
156 Liam van Deventer 82 74; Yurav Premlall 80 76

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.


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