VILJOENSDRIFT, South Africa (Nov. 17, 2014) — Fourways amateur Matthew Spacey will ride a wave of confidence into this week’s Harry Oppenheimer Trophy at Maccauvlei after lifting in the Central Gauteng Open title on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Dainfern golfer started the final round four off the pace, but surged to victory with a flawless seven under 65 at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East Course.
Spacey sealed a breathless bid for glory with an eagle and five birdies to triumph on nine-under-par 207.
Mauritian golfer Ludovic Bax carded rounds of 69, 71 and 68 to finish second on 208 at his home course.
Spacey applauded sport phycologist Theo Bezuidenhout for what he termed a “mental breakthrough”.
“I was well out of it after a first round 71 and I knew I needed a good start to make something happen,” Spacey said. “I birdied the first, but I wasn’t striking the ball well and I made three bogeys on the trot.
“Theo and I have been working on ways to overcome adversity in a tournament, so I just went back to the basics. I played percentage golf, tee to green, to turn things around and it worked.”
Spacey got back on track with birdies at the seventh and the eighth holes before play was suspended for due to thunderstorms.
On Sunday morning, the TuksSport Golf Academy player birdied the 10th and erased a double bogey at the 16th with back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th holes to sign for another 71.
He lagged four off the pace from ProShop Northern Amateur Stroke Play champion, Marco Steyn, who carded rounds of 66 and 72.
Needing a fast start, he set the tone for a blistering final round at the first fairway.
“I cleared the bunkers with my drive, hit a seven-iron to three feet and boxed the putt for eagle,” he said.
“I birdied the third and sixth to turn in three under and that’s when I realised I had a chance to win.”
Spacey hit a pitching wedge to six feet at the par-four 13th and made the birdie putt. He used the pitching wedge to great effect again at the par-four 15th, hitting it three feet and made another birdie.
“I think the real breakthrough came at the 16th,” he said. “I drove it into the bunker and made a great up-and-down to save par. That really boosted my confidence with two holes to play.”
Spacey split the fairway at the par-five 18th, but hit his two-iron approach in the bunker.
“Coming off the save at 16, I wasn’t scared to take on the trap shot,” he said. “I splashed it to six feet and made the putt to win. It was tough mentally, but I proved to myself that I can turn things around.
“I hit four poor tee shots in the second round that cost me, but I got past it. This victory is a huge confidence booster for me.”
Following the 54-hole Harry Oppenheimer Cup, Spacey will line up with Steyn, Darin de Smidt and Michael Dixon in the International Teams Championship.
The four players were members of the victorious Central Gauteng team that won this year’s Premier SA Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, in September.
Nearly 11 months since he won the Individual Honours in the International Teams Championship at Maccauvlei, Spacey is primed ahead of his title defence.
“I’m swinging it really great now, but I know I don’t need to panic if my swing lets me down,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve crossed a huge mental barrier. I definitely want to do better than last year in the Harry Oppenheimer and help my team to the podium in the International Teams.”