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Du Preez wins African Amateur Championships by three

Du Preez

James du Preez sealed an emotional return to the winner’s circle when he captured a three-shot victory in the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship on Friday.

The 22-year-old Pretoria golfer produced a flawless 64 in the third round at Glendower Golf Club to surge seven shots clear of the field and withstood a spirited final round charge from reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht.

Du Preez had four birdies, including three on the bounce from 11, but surrendered three shots to close with a one-under 71.

‘I’ve never had a seven-shot win and I think it’s easier to be one or two behind and chase than to lead by such a large margin, because you can get aggressive,’ said the champion who triumphed on an overall aggregate of 14-under 274.

‘I tried to stick to the same game plan, because I didn’t want to get complacent. The top moment of my final round was the birdie at 11. The round got away from me a little in the stretch from seven to 11 and I made a couple of bad decisions with second shots.

‘I flew the green for four consecutive holes and it was tough to up-and-down for pars to back pins, so to get the birdie putt to drop at 11 just got the momentum going my way again. I felt like I had control of the round again.’

It had been nearly two years since the promising Pretoria golfer held a trophy aloft.

A recurring back injury took him out of the game and he dropped as low as 130th in rankings last year. He showed glimpses of the form that carried him to the number two spot in the South African Golf Association Open Amateur Rankings in 2016 with a top five finish in the South African Stroke Play Championship at Pecanwood last week.

Success in the African Amateur boosted him to seventh in the standings, but it was much more than a win for Du Preez. It exemplified his drive, determination, willpower and commitment to reach the top level of competition again.
‘I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. It’s a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine and it’s basically a life sentence,’ said Du Preez.

‘I had surgery in 2012, which meant six months off. That’s been the story year on year. It was hard at first to accept this news, but I’ve made peace with it. I’d say it’s much harder on the people around me, like my parents and friends.

‘The last two years have probably been the toughest of my life. I didn’t play for about 15 months. There were times when golf was probably the last thing I thought about. I started working with a friend of mine in the coffee industry, which was really cool and it brought some balance back into my life.

‘I worked with a great team at the HPC Tuks Golf Academy. I follow a strict gym routine to strengthen my core muscles and I have surrounded myself with people all trying to find a way for me to manage the condition so I can pursue my goal of playing pro golf.

‘I’m in a really good space compared to two years ago. As golfers, we often make decisions based on what we want to happen that can be to our detriment. We forget that it’s just golf. At the end of the day, there is so much more to life than what happens on the golf course. This win is a confirmation that I’m doing the right things, and that the people in my life are the right people.’

Second place came down to a fight between Southern Cape juniors Lamprecht and Martin Vorster.

Lamprecht won the race when he nailed five birdies over the last six holes for a 66, while Vorster returned a 68 to take third on 278.

‘I’m as happy as Larry,’ said Lamprecht, who will start his Sanlam SA Amateur title defence at Durban Country Club in a fortnight. ‘It was always going to be a huge task to catch James, but I’m pleased that I reduced the gap to four shots. I drove the ball well and got the putter going nicely. This week was a good confidence booster and I’m taking this game to Durban.’

Picture of Du Preez courtesy of Ernest Blignault

Final Results
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified:
274 – James du Preez 69 70 64 71
277 – Christo Lamprecht Jnr 74 69 68 66
278 – Martin Vorster 73 69 68 68
279 – Frédéric LaCroix FRA 67 74 71 67
280 – Edgar Catherine FRA 70 68 76 66
281 – Coalan Rafferty IRL 73 68 69 71; Louis Albertse 71 71 72 67
284 – Andrew Wilson ENG 76 71 71 66
285 – Malcolm Mitchell 71 72 71 71
286 – Dylan Kok 72 72 72 70; Matt Saulez 70 73 75 68
287 – Wilco Nienaber 79 65 73 70; Alex Gleeson IRL 73 67 71 76
289 – Jack Gaunt ENG 77 69 71 72; Euan Walker GBR 76 70 71 72; Jeremy Freiburghaus SUI 73 70 77 69; Mark Power IRL 72 74 74 69; Kartik Sharma IND 71 76 72 70; Byron Coetzee 71 70 74 74
290 – Luca Filippi 75 70 71 74; Robin Dawson IRL 73 71 70 76; Jayden Schaper 72 74 72 72; David Mcintyre 70 68 78 74
291 – Sam Locke SCO 74 75 67 75; Clément Charmasson FRA 70 74 80 67
292 – Otto van Buynder 82 70 70 70; Darren Howie SCO 75 74 70 73; Chris Woollam 73 73 72 74; Cameron Moralee 73 69 76 74; Yashas Chandra IND 70 68 80 74
293 – Alan Lones 79 69 71 74; James Sugrue IRL 75 72 72 74; Nicholaus Frade 71 71 75 76
294 – Christopher van der Merwe 76 75 71 72; Kyle de Beer 76 72 76 70
295 – Clayton Mansfield 77 75 74 69; Jonathan Yates IRL 77 70 77 71; Luan Boshoff 71 70 80 74
296 – Neal Woernhard SUI 78 71 70 77; Victor Veyret FRA 77 77 72 70; Keegan Mclachlan 74 72 76 74; Ryan van Velzen 74 69 75 78; Paul Waring ENG 72 77 72 75
297 – Caylum Boon 77 77 73 70; Loris Schuepbach SUI 77 74 70 76; Calum Fyfe SCO 74 73 73 77; Deon Germishuys 73 74 74 76
299 – Callum Mackay GBR 76 77 71 75; Maximillian Boegel GER 75 75 75 74
300 – Andre van Heerden (Jnr) 81 72 77 70; Gregory Mckay 73 76 76 75
301 – David Langley GBR 82 75 72 72; Theunie Bezuidenhout 76 77 70 78; Andrew Carlsson 75 77 77 72
302 – Romain Lanteri FRA 81 71 73 77; Siyanda Mwandla 78 73 74 77; Philip Kruse 77 77 74 74; Titouan Berny 77 73 79 73; Varun Parikh IND 76 79 72 75; Guillaume Chevalier FRA 75 74 75 78
304 – Sheoran Dhruv IND 77 75 77 75; Jordan Burnand 77 74 78 75
305 – John Paterson SCO 78 73 76 78
307 – Aneurin Gounden 78 74 78 77; Tiarnan McLarnon IRL 74 72 77 84
308 – Pierre Pellegrin 78 78 73 79


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