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Woollam slays Brown to lift Proudfoot Trophy

20 Feb 2017

Sanlam SA Amateur Proudfoot champion Chris Woollam; credit Michael Sheehan.

KwaZulu-Natal teenager Chris Woollam stunned with a profound victory in the 36-hole stroke play qualifier for the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship when he defeated reigning English Amateur champion Dan Brown in a sudden-death play-off on Monday.

Woollam carded a 64 and Brown fired a 63 in the final round at Humewood Golf Club to tie for the lead at 15-under-par 129 at the end of regulation play. It took four extra trips down the par four 18th before the 17-year-old Hilton College student broke the deadlock and lifted the Proudfoot Trophy.

The Englishman hit his second shot past the pin, leaving himself a testy 20 foot birdie putt while Woollam pitched his approach a foot from the flag.

Brown’s ball shaved the hole and he tapped in for par. The South African youngster wasted no time. He knocked home the birdie putt, tipped his cap to the crowd and blew out a huge breath.

“I’m so relieved that is over,” sighed a smiling Woollam.

“That’s the most stress I’ve ever had on a golf course. It could have gone on for ever, because that last putt from Dan looked into the hole and rolled past. I still can’t believe that I’ve done it. This is huge for me and I’m so happy that my dad was here to share this with me.”

Brown played the course blind on day one and drew some nods for his first round six under 66, but it was his start in the final round that blew the field away.

The 22-year-old from North Yorkshire was six under through the first six holes with birdies at one and five and eagle-twos at the second and fourth holes. He negated a lone bogey on the back nine with four birdies to set the early clubhouse target at 15 under.

“I made a judgement call to skip the practice round and it paid off,” said Brown, who finished third in the South African Stroke Play Championship a fortnight ago.

“I was really fatigued after the SA Stroke Play and the Sanlam Cape Province Open and I just wanted to shut down and recharge. When I saw the weather forecast I made the call. I played well yesterday, but I surprised myself with that start.

“I am delighted that I got into a tie for the lead and hats off to Chris. He held his nerve in that play-off and played really well. Now we get down to business. Match play is a very different format, so I’ll have to bring my A-game to every match.”

Woollam shot 65 in his opening round and was 12 under through his front nine after pocketing birdies at 12, 13, 15, 17 and 18. The Gowrie Farm player wedged a bogey between two birdies to start the homeward loop and further gains six and nine secured his share of the lead.

“My dad always tells me that we need to take it one step at a time, so this is just my second national championship after the SA Stroke Play,” Woollam said.

“I didn’t have high expectations coming to Port Elizabeth. I just hoped I would make the cut, but I love this course. It suits my eye. I felt really comfortable out there in the first round and everything in the game just worked together nicely. I didn’t miss many fairways and the greens roll really nicely.

“I’m excited to play in my first match play. This is all great experience for me. Hopefully I can hang around until Friday.”

Round one of the match play championship will start following the completion of the sudden-death play-off for the final three spots to make up the 64-man field.

A total of 18 players tied at one under 143. Twelve players were able to complete the 18th hole before play was called off due to failing light.

Sean Towndrow from England and Luke Mayo both birdied the first play-off hole, while six players signed for pars and four players were cut after producing bogeys. The remaining six players still have to complete the first play-off hole.

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