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McClatchie the main man at golf awards

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Ekurhuleni’s 2014 Youth Olympics golfer Kyle McClatchie took home three trophies at the GolfRSA and Sunshine Tour Awards Ceremony held at the weekend.

The former No 1-ranked amateur took home GolfRSA’s Open Amateur of the Year Award and the Outstanding Achievement Award for his triumph in the 2017 English Amateur Stroke Play Championship, as well as the Sunshine Tour’s Newcomer of the Year.

The 20-year-old finished as the top amateur in the BMW South African Open in January and turned professional shortly afterwards, achieving notable early success, including a runner-up finish in his last event, the Steyn City Team Championship.

McClatchie’s standout performance in 2017 came at the Woodhall Spa Golf Club, where he shot rounds of 70, 66, 75 and 71 to follow in the footsteps of Neville Sundelson (1974), Richard Kaplan (1986), Craig Rivett (1989) and Charl Schwartzel (2002) in lifting the Brabazon Trophy as the English Amateur Stroke Play champion.

Another player to receive an Achievement Award was Danielle du Toit, who capped off her season with a magnificent performance in the All India Ladies Amateur Championship in Bangalore, India. The Pretoria amateur became the 101st champion of the event when she edged Malaysian star Ashley Lau Jen Wen 2 & 1 in a nail-biting 36-hole final at the Eagleton Golf Resort in Bangalore.

South Africa’s No 1-ranked junior, Jayden Schaper, collected the Junior Amateur of the Year award, having completed an unprecedented sweep of the SA Boys titles.

The 17-year-old from Ekurhuleni claimed the ‘Grand Slam’ when he added the Nomads SA Boys Under-19 Stroke Play Championship to the Nomads SA Boys Under-13, SA Boys Under-15 and SA Boys Under-17 titles that he had previously won. Schaper then sealed the double when he beat Christo Lamprecht for the Match Play title.

Schaper also qualified by virtue of his amateur golf world ranking for the International Team in last year’s inaugural Junior Presidents Cup.

Kajal Mistry was awarded the Women’s Golf South Africa Order of Merit Award. She retained her position as the top-ranked golfer for the whole of 2017 with a series of victories and top-five finishes, including victory in the Sanlam South African Women’s Stroke Play Championship last April.

The 17-year-old Randpark golfer has been the leading golfer in the Girls Competitions at the All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge for two successive years and she underlined her tremendous potential earlier this year when she claimed a top-six finish in the prestigious Annika Invitational USA that featured a field packed with top golfers from around the globe.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Derek Scullard was awarded the Mid-Amateur of the Year title, after enjoying his best season yet in 2017. He racked up trophies in the Lowveld, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Province and Limpopo Mid-Amateur Opens and cemented his upward trajectory in the rankings with a tie for fourth in the South African Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship and a top-10 finish in the North West Mid-Amateur Open.

Scullard also won the Most Valuable Player accolade in the SA Country Districts with an unbeaten record that helped KwaZulu-Natal to victory in the A-Division.

Steve Williams was an obvious choice for the Senior Amateur of the Year award. He rose to the No 1 spot in the Senior Rankings after his victory in the SA Senior Stroke Play in 2016 and he protected his spot at the top with five victories, two runner-up finishes and a top five in 2017. Early in 2018, Williams has already visited the winner’s circle three times.

In 2015, Williams upstaged some of South Africa’s leading senior professionals to lift the prestigious South African Senior Open trophy and in February this year, he made history again as the first golfer to claim the Senior Double when he won the Senior Players Championship at Sun City.

Oliver Bekker, who won three times during the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour season, was recognised for his overall contribution to golf on the Tour in the citation for the Commissioner’s Award.

He was also honoured by his fellow professionals in winning the Players’ Player of the Year award, and by the golfing media when he took the Media Player of the Year award.

He also won the Gary Player Trophy for the best stroke average of players who played in 60% or more of the Sunshine Tour tournaments during the season. He averaged 70.21 over 71 rounds of tournament golf. His fifth award was for his feats on the par fives during the season, where he averaged 1.97 under par throughout his 24-tournament campaign.

Main picture of McClatchie courtesy of Ernest Blignault/GolfRSA and that of other big winners (left to right):  Scullard,  Schaper,  Mistry, Du Toit and  Williams courtesy of Johan Rynners

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