Martin Couvra cruises to South African Stroke Play title
Martin Couvra (South Africa Golf Association photo)
Martin Couvra (South Africa Golf Association photo)

Martin Couvra became the third Frenchman to win the South African Stroke Play Championship after he emphatically claimed the 2023 edition at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate on Thursday.

A near-perfect final round of six-under-par 66 took his tournament total to a staggering 15-under-par, earning him a six-shot victory over Ireland’s Joshua Hill.

“It’s a very nice win for me because there were two French players before me; it is nice to have this tournament in my bag. And, because I started my season last week at Leopard Creek, it is important for me to win so early in the season,” Couvar said.

The 19-year-old Dolce Fregate golfer joined countrymen Ugo Coussaud, who won at Port Elizabeth Golf Club in 2015 and Edgar Catherine, the champion at Kingswood two years later, ending a four-year South African stronghold on the GolfRSA SA Swing championship.

Coming off a frustrating tie for 16th in the 36-hole weather-reduced African Amateur Stroke Play Championship, Couvar sounded an early warning when he opened with a four-under 68 to finish one shot behind leader Matthew Wilson from Scotland. However, a battling 72 in the second round saw him slip three shots off the pace.

A superb third-round 67 vaulted Couvra to the summit, and he slept on a four-shot lead.

A birdie at the second hole on the final day settled any nerves that might have crept in overnight, and he picked up a brace of birdies on six and seven to keep the momentum going. Another birdie at the turn kept the chasing pack at bay.

Coming home, the clinical Couvra made further gains on the 11th and 13th holes before a lone bogey on 16 tainted his otherwise flawless scorecard. He rallied immediately, taking advantage of his accuracy off the tee, pin-seeking irons and red-hot putter to produce birdie number seven at the par-five 17th. A closing par at the ultimate hole sealed his maiden win on South African soil.

By his own admission, the win represents a form of redemption for Couvra after his first attempt at victory ended in a missed cut three years ago.

Now experienced and among the top amateurs in the world – he was ranked 92nd in the World Amateur Golf Rankings at the start of the week – the French teenager was more composed and relentless in his hunt for glory in this esteemed event.

“I played this tournament three years ago at Randpark, and I missed the cut, so to win this week was very good and I am very happy,” he said.

“I just wanted to play my own game throughout the week; play great golf shots and see out the tournament. I had to play smart golf this week because it was tough in the second round. Thankfully, I had the help of my caddie and we worked well together to get the results this week.”

Contrary to Couvra’s large winning margin that might suggest he had all easy on day four, he did come under some pressure from 36-hole leader Joshua Hill, who played exceptional golf, too. His closing 68 was good enough to see him finish in the runner-up position.

Defending champion Jono Broomhead, who raced up the leaderboard from joint 37th to a tie for seventh with a blemish-free 65 on moving day, produced another fine round of 69, that included an eagle at the par-five 17th.

The Durban golfer shared a commendable third place on six-under alongside compatriot JP van der Watt, who signed off with a round of 71.

Scotland’s Matthew Wilson placed solo fifth a shot back, while Jordan Burnand and reigning African Amateur champion Aldrich Potgieter tied for sixth on four-under. Closing out the top 10 were Scotland’s Gregor Graham and countryman, reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur Open champion, Matthew McClean, on three-under and GolfRSA National Squad member Dan Bennett, alone in 10th position on two-under.

Results: South African Stroke Play
1FranceMartin CouvraFrance100068-72-67-66=273
2Northern IrelandJoshua HillNorthern Ireland70068-69-74-68=279
T3South AfricaJean Pierre van der WattSouth Africa50070-71-70-71=282
T3South AfricaJonathan BroomheadSouth Africa50075-73-65-69=282
5ScotlandMatthew WilsonScotland50067-75-69-72=283

View full results for South African Stroke Play

ABOUT THE South African Stroke Play

The premier amateur stroke play event in South Africa, with a field comprised of the best South African amateurs and a strong contingent of Europeans. 72 hole stroke play championship with a cut after 36 holes.

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