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Wellington wants a shot at Senior SA Stroke Play

06 Jun 2016

Jock Wellington; credit Pieter Els / Southern Cape Golf Union

A return to the winner’s circle in May has not only put a spring in Jock Wellington’s step, but the 65-year-old is now targeting a fourth INDWE Senior SA Stroke Play Championship title in October and there are a few good reasons why the three-time champion could start the senior circuit’s flagship event as one of the favourites.

The most obvious would be the home course advantage at Kyalami Country Club, where the proud seven-time club champion has been a member for the last 30 years.

However, Wellington’s skills seem to improve like great red wine.

In April, he defied his age to help Central Gauteng’s 50-somethings claim a commanding four point victory in the INDWE SA Senior Amateur Inter-Provincial at the Wanderers Golf Club.

A month later, Wellington ended a 23-month title drought in the Southern Cape Senior Open when held off some of the country’s top ranked seniors to triumph at George Golf Club. He carded rounds of 72 and 71 to defeat fellow Central Gauteng golfer Schalk Naude by one shot on a winning score on one-under-par 143.

Finally – and especially since 2015 champion David Konzani will be unable to defend – Wellington’s record in the championship makes him a prime contender.

The Super Senior showed that age has done nothing to diminish his competitive spirit with tie for second at Pecanwood in 2014 and was even a factor after an opening 75 in last year’s edition. Unfortunately he caught the bad side of the draw and posted a 79 in the tough weather conditions to spiral out of contention, but in typical Jock Wellington fashion, fired subsequent rounds of 73 and 75 to rally to a tie for 12th in Port Elizabeth.

In the last four editions of the premier championship Wellington has not finished outside the top 16 and after the victory in George, Wellington does fancy his chances at a fourth title.

“I just want to talk about David for a minute,” Wellington said.

“We’ve have had some fierce battles in the past and he will really be missed at this year’s the INDWE Senior SA Stroke Play. When I was booking my flight for the two Senior Opens at St Francis Links later this month, I kept thinking that his absence has left a gaping hole on the senior amateur circuit.

“David is one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport and just the friendliest guy. It was a great shock for all of us to learn that he has been diagnosed with cancer. All the players and everyone at INDWE Risk Services and the South African Golf Association are wishing him a lot of strength and a positive outcome as he starts chemotherapy this month.

“As far as my chances are concerned, I’m definitely going to play to win, but it will come down to how I hit the ball and how I putt. Kyalami has an abundance of trees and it’s a very tight layout, so accuracy will be at a premium.  It could benefit the long hitters, providing that they hit it straight.

“You have to plan your shots so you hit to the right side of the greens, since almost every green falls away. It won’t be sufficient to hit it near the greens. You don’t want to leave yourself short, facing an uphill or downhill chip. They don’t have a lot of undulation, but they are tricky to read and, if they speed them up, you will definitely be in trouble if you don’t hit the greens.”

Wellington will not only have to contend with two-time former champion and reigning number one senior Mellette Hendrikse, but a host of other winners this season will also be bidding for the title, including Gerard Blaauw, William Skinner, Ben Kleynhans, Craig Poulton, Morgan Phillips, Andre van Dyk, Garth McGimpsey and Francois le Roux, already a two-time champion this season with victories in the Boland Senior Open and the Winelands and African Senior Open.

“That is a tough bunch of guys to take on, but after 30 years at Kyalami, I know the course like the back of my hand,” Wellington said.

“I’ll be working hard on accuracy and putting leading up to the championship. If I play well going into the week, I definitely back myself for this year’s event.”

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

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