GEORGE GOLF NEWS - The 18-year-old Fancourt golfer Ben van Wyk got instant redemption with a two-shot triumph in the Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal at St Francis Links just days after faltering down the stretch while in contention in the Dimension Data Junior Open.
The reigning Nomads SA Boys u.19 Match Play champion posted the lowest junior score in the club's history and equalled an amateur record that stood for 13 years when he fired a six-under-par 66 in the opening round on the Jack Nicklaus signature course.
He backed that up with a two-under 70 to win the title that has eluded him for the last three years.
"It's an amazing feeling to be back in the winner's circle," Van Wyk said. "For the last three years, I've led this tournament in the first round and threw it away on the last day. I told myself not this time; not after last week's disappointment."
Birdies at the second and third, and another brace at the fifth and sixth holes pushed Van Wyk into pole position and he never relinquished the lead. He added two more birdies at 12 and 13 and offset a lone bogey at 14 with a birdie at the par three 17th for 66.
"I struck the ball really well and I hit almost every fairway and green. I put myself in good positions to go for the right side of the greens and the putter did the rest," he said.
Another blistering start in the final round kept the George teenager in front.
"I hit it close on the first, lipped out for eagle at the par five third and hit a 6-iron to three foot at the short fourth to go three-under in the first four holes," Van Wyk said. "Unfortunately I hit a bit of a rough spot before the turn. I hit a 4-iron in and was in an awkward spot and couldn't up-and-down for par at the eighth. On the ninth, I expected my second shot to fade. It stayed straight, went into the hazard and I ended up making double."
He gained back two shots with birdies at 12 and 13, but dropped another at the par five (16) after a wayward drive. He reached the final hole with a one-shot lead and was almost in trouble after a poor tee-shot, but the Fancourt golfer saved the day with a brilliant approach. He hit a perfect 9-iron to three feet and calmly boxed the putt to seal a two-shot victory on eight-under 146.
The triumph gave Van Wyk an injection of confidence.
"I am really stoked about this win. This was my last official tournament in South Africa and it's a great feeling to leave for the United States with two big wins under the belt," said Van Wyk, who is taking up a golf scholarship at Augusta University in George in August.
"The Nomads events always draw the best junior golfers and to win against the best is pretty awesome. It's been a great season so far, and I'll take a lot of confidence to the United States.""
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