Phillips cruises to Senior Amateur title - TeamSA

Phillips cruises to Senior Amateur title

Morgan Phillips

Maritzburg golfer Morgan Phillips marched to a seven-shot victory in the South African Senior Amateur Championship with a masterful display at the Heron Banks River and Golf Estate.

The 57-year-old was confidence and poise personified as he signed for an even-par final round 71 to triumph on three-under 210.

‘I have dreamt of winning this championship since I joined the senior ranks, especially after I won the Senior Players in 2015,’ said Phillips, only the second player to have won both flagship events after reigning No 1 Steve Williams.

‘I had a top 10 in 2016 and I tied for sixth last year, but I had to put my family first and had to scale back quite a bit on competitive golf over the last 20 months. When I arrived at Heron Banks, I had only played six tournaments this season. I had no expectations and I think that was the key to my success. I went out there, played my game, managed my game well and put together three solid rounds.’

Growing up in the apartheid era, Phillips never had the opportunity to contest the SA Amateur. He was 55 years old when he earned his national colours for the first time, representing South Africa in the inaugural Fellowship Cup against India in Kolkata in 2016.

Phillips and Craig Kamps from Bryanston shared the first round lead on one under, but the KwaZulu-Natal senior was flying solo after a second round 69. He started the final round with a commanding four-shot cushion on three under, but his lead more than doubled when Kamps triple bogeyed the par-five opening hole.

After a birdie start, Phillips pencilled in another birdie at the par-four 6th and pulled 11 shots clear when Kamps dropped two shots at the par-four 7th. The Gauteng golfer rallied with a birdie at the 8th, but Phillips headed down the back nine with a comfortable 10-shot cushion.

Kamps mounted a comeback with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th, but further bogeys at the 16th and 18th for a final round 74 relegated the 53-year-old to second on his own on four-over 217.

Phillips didn’t have it all his own way down the stretch, either.

‘I just made a good up-and-down at the 14th to save par after I pulled my 4-iron, so I feeling confident,’ he said. ‘Then I drove it into the hazard at 15. I took the penalty drop and made a great up-and-down for bogey, but at 16, the same story. Another hazard and another bogey.

‘I still had a six-shot lead, though. I made a good par at 17, but I caught the lip of the greenside bunker at 18. I hacked it out on the green and holed the par putt.’

The one-two finish meant Phillips moved to third in the Senior Rankings and Kamps vaulted to fourth in the standings.

The payoff was spots on the Senior Team for the third Fellowship Cup against India at the end of November alongside No 1-ranked Williams and Francois le Roux, ranked second. Fifth-ranked Andre van Dyk was named the non-travelling reserve.

 Final Leaderboard
210 Morgan Phillips 70 69 71
217 Craig Kamps 70 73 74
221 Barry Sundelson 75 78 68; Stephen Johnston 76 73 72; Derek Reyneke 71 74 76
222 Christo Reyneke 77 72 73; Wilhelm de Kock 73 75 74; Rurik Gobel 76 70 76; Ramon Rahme 73 73 76
223 Attie Burger 76 73 74; Basil Naidoo 72 76 75
224 B Chernotsky 74 72 78

Photo: Phillips poses with the winner’s trophy, Supplied

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