Wilco Nienaber (SA Golf Association photo)
Wilco Nienaber’s name is starting to crop up more and more frequently in golf conversations. Week’s after winning the Gauteng North Stroke Play, the teenager won the South African Match Play in his home country.
The South African Match Play is the country’s most coveted amateur title, and this is the third year in a row that a South African player has won the event. Nienaber, ranked No. 59 in the world, was the favorite entering the 36-hole final match, but he still had to go toe to toe with Jordan Duminy.
In the second time around King David Mowbray Golf Club in Cape Town, South Africa, Duminy birdied Nos. 1 and 4 and was 2 up through 24 holes. Duminy, a fellow South African, kept the lead and even though Nienaber started his comeback with a birdie at the 25th, Duminy was 1 up through the last turn.
“I made birdie at 11 (28) to square; he birdied 13 (31) to go 1-up again,” Nienaber said. “That was the story of the day. When I saw his drive finish short at 17 (35), I went for the green. I hit 4-iron front edge, lagged the eagle putt give and birdied to square the match. It was now or never.”
Duminy had a birdie chance from 10 foot, but his putt missed the mark.
“It may have looked as if I didn’t break a sweat, but my heart was racing a few times, especially when I gave a hole away coming down the home stretch,” Nienaber said after he closed out the victory with a par at the last.
Nienaber will now attempt to take the title at South African Stroke Play. At the end of the week in Cape Town, however, he had nothing but good things to say about his opponent.
“Jordan never gave an inch. He never gave me a chance to pounce, but my own game didn’t allow for it to happen either. I really had to work for this one. I’m absolutely ecstatic.”
ABOUT THE South African Amateur Championship
The premier match play event in South
holes of stroke play qualifying, from which
64 advance to match play.
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