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SA make a battling start in India

06 Dec 2016

Morgan Phillips; credit SAGA.

Morgan Phillips and Shaun Stapleton led the eight-man challenge for South Africa in the opening round of the 116th Amateur Golf Championship of India on Tuesday.

Phillips, who ranks fourth in the South African Golf Association Senior rankings and third ranked mid-amateur Stapleton posted a pair of 76s at Royal Calcutta Golf Club to grab a share of 15th in the Indian Golf Union’s flagship event.

The South African duo lag eight shots behind Sunhit Chowrasia from West Bengan, who opened up a three shot lead over Chandigarh’s HS Kang with a four-under-par 68.

Phillips from KwaZulu-Natal mixed four bogeys with 14 pars, while Gauteng’s Stapleton notched a trio of birdies. He was still in good shape through 16, despite a double bogey at the third and three dropped shots, but he slipped from joint ninth with a bogey-bogey finish.

Meanwhile mid-Amateur Stefan Blommaert also dropped a couple of shots at the last two holes and signed for a 78. The country’s top ranked senior Steve Williams returned an 80 and senior Francois le Roux and mid-amateur Josef Fourie both posted 81s.

Three-time Indwe Risk Services SA Senior Stroke Play champion Jock Wellington – who is still struggling to shake a bout of bronchitis – brought up the rear with an 84.

Unfortunately Gerlou Roux caught the bug and the reigning SA Mid-Amateur Stroke Play champion was forced to withdraw ahead of the opening round.

“Before we started the Golf Test Series against India, Jock and Morgan both went down with bronchitis and Jock is still not recovered, but he was determined to play,” said the team’s assistant manager, David Younge.

“This morning Gerlou was man down. He is such a highly competitive player and it was a huge blow for him. He was really motivated after the 7 & 6 win in the Singles on Sunday that earned him the Player of the Day honours, but he was just too weak to compete.

“Hopefully a day in bed has done him some good. Although the championship is over for him, he can still compete in the team stroke play competitions in the second round.”

The South Africans would love to have Roux back on his feet for the final day of the Team Stroke Play Test against India and the team competition within the 36-hole Stroke Play Qualifier for the Amateur Golf Championship of India.

All eight scores count in the Test, while the team competition comprises 13 teams of two players each, with both scores to count.

“We trail India by eight shots in the second Test, and we are currently lying fourth in the Team Competition, but Shaun and Francois are a full 11 strokes behind the leaders,” said Younge. “We’ll have to pull out all the stops on Wednesday if we want to win both Tests and overtake HS Kang and Simarjeet Singh in the Team Competition.”

Kang led the way for the host nation with a one-under-par 71.

Simarjeet Singh fired a 75, Amit Luthra carded 77 and Ranjit Singh shot 78. Kailash Dhiwas posted an 82, Anil Jule and Lakshman Singh posted a pair of 83s and Vijay Kumar Bhadana closed out their first round total of 383 with an 88.

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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