GOLF NEWS - He called it possibly the best two-iron of his life, and it set up what turned out to be a decisive eagle for Samuel Simpson as he went on to win the Proudfoot Trophy for topping the 36-hole stroke play qualifier for the match play stage of the Aon South African Amateur Championship.
After making three birdies in the opening seven holes to pull himself into a share of the lead, which stood at 10-under after Casey Jarvis set the clubhouse target in the morning at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in the morning, Simpson eagled eight to go into a lead which he never relinquished as he made one more birdie on his way in after the turn.
“I took three-wood off the tee on the eighth hole just to put myself into position,” said the 17-year-old Western Province golfer. “I had 245 to the flag and I hit a great two-iron to about three feet and rolled that one in for eagle. That was really cool.”
There are some big names on the Proudfoot Trophy, including Major winner Trevor Immelman, European Tour winners Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous and more recently, former Freddie Tait Cup winner Jovan Rebula. “It’s great,” said Simpson. “I haven’t really thought about the names that have been on it, but it will be really cool to see my name on it in the future.”
The East Course at Royal Johannesburg is a stern test and, for Simpson to have gone bogey-free as he held on to his three-stroke edge over Jarvis, countryman Christiaan Maas and England’s Joseph Long was an impressive feat.
He felt his putter let him down somewhat in last week’s South African Stroke Play Championship which Jarvis romped away with. “It was not the best putting performance from me last week,” said Simpson. “This week, it’s only two weeks done, but the putter was definitely rolling and I’m looking forward to more like it in the match play.”
Jarvis got it to 11-under as he looked to be on his way to a possible second title inside two weeks, but he incurred a penalty stroke for inadvertently marking and lifting his ball which was just on the edge of a green. That saw him finish at 10-under, and although that was three strokes back, he’s in a good space going into the match play.
“I played some good golf out there,” said Jarvis. “I’m really confident heading into the match play. I’m pleased for my friend Sam for winning the Proudfoot – he deserves it because he’s been playing very well lately.”
Long’s seven-under-par 65 will be the new course record at Royal after the course underwent some extensive renovation and changes ahead of its reopening last year in January.
The Englishman started his round with a birdie on the 10th, which could have disheartened him, but didn’t. “I had a good bounce-back after the bogey with two birdies in a row,” said Long, “and then I had another bogey. I dropped the eagle on 18. It was two great shots in and I holed an 18-footer. Then I hit another two good shots and holed a six-footer on one. The putter was just on fire, really.”
As the top 64 players go into the match play, the East Course is going to ask some questions of them as they scheme to bring down an opponent, rather than trying to overpower the course.
“There are some really demanding tee shots that you have to step up and commit to. There are tighter fairways. I prefer that and I’m mentally prepared for that,” said Long
For Simpson, the satisfaction of winning the Proudfoot Trophy helps his state of mind going into the shoot-out which is match play. “I started yesterday with a nice seven-under which put me in a good position to go out there today and shoot a low number,” he said. “I just have to put things into perspective and tell myself that it’s only two rounds done. There are a lot of match play rounds left. I’ve just got to focus on going out there tomorrow and playing the best I can.”
The final spots for the first round of the knock-out stages was decided in a 10-man play-off on two-over-par 146, with Frenchman Elliot Anger and South Africans Siyanda Mwandla and Christopher Gutuza coming up trumps.
36-hole Proudfoot Trophy Stroke Play Qualifier Results
(Leading 64 players qualify for the 2020 Aon South African Amateur Championship)
131 Samuel Simpson 65 66
134 Joseph Long GBR 69 65; Christiaan Maas 66 68; Casey Jarvis 63 71
136 Sam Bairstow ENG 67 69; Darren Howie SCO 66 70; James Biggs ENG 65 71; Connor Wilson SCO 65 71
137 Koen Kouwenaar NED 71 66; Haider Hussain ENG 67 70
138 Luca Filippi 70 68; Kyle de Beer 68 70; Dario Antonisse NED 68 70; Yurav Premlall 67 71
139 Martin Vorster 71 68; Nash de Klerk 70 69; Francois Cilliers 69 70; Therion Nel 69 70; Oliver Goldhill 68 71; Olly Huggins GBR 66 73
140 Christo Lamprecht Jnr 71 69; Tom Vaillant FRA 70 70; Liam van Deventer 69 71; Ryan van Velzen 68 72; Kian Rose 68 72; Jonathan Broomhead 66 74
141 Nordin van Tilburg NED 72 69; Hugo Archer FRA 71 70; Martin Couvra FRA 71 70; Stuart Easton SCO 71 70; Jordan Duminy 70 71; Loris Schuepbach SUI 70 71; James Wilson SCO 70 71; Kieron van Wyk 68 73; Stephen Roger SCO 68 73
142 Aneurin Gounden 71 71; Jake Bolton ENG 71 71; Nikhil Rama 69 73; Connor Engelmohr GER 68 74; Charles Larcelet FRA 66 76
143 Bob Geurts NED 74 69; Gregory Mckay 72 71; Crismar Engelbrecht 71 72; Sean Paxton 71 72; Robin Williams GBR 70 73; Nicolas Muller FRA 69 74; Andrew Williamson 68 75
144 Peter Handcock GBR 75 69; Cade Cryer 73 71; Christiaan Burke 71 73; Rigardt Albertse 70 74; Hein Dreyer 69 75; Theo Boulet FRA 69 75; Amilkar Bhana 68 76; Jordan Burnand 66 78
145 Ryan Welsh 75 70; Jules Helary 74 71; Aran Sinclair 72 73; Cole Stevens 72 73; Tyran Snyders 69 76; Michael Wallace 69 76
146 Elliot Anger FRA 74 72; Siyanda Mwandla 73 73; Christopher Gutuza 71 75