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Phillips goes clear in SA Senior Amateur

Phillips

Maritzburg golfer Morgan Phillips stamped his authority on the South African Senior Amateur Championship with a two-under-par 70 and raced clear of Craig Kamps in the second round.

Phillips began the day alongside Kamps after he matched the Gauteng golfer’s target, setting one-under 71 in the opening round at Heron Banks River and Golf Estate. The KwaZulu-Natal golfer led Kamps by four shots on three-under-par 139 by sundown.

The 57-year-old Phillips has dramatically cut his playing schedule in the last 18 months to prioritise his family, yet he has shown remarkable consistency this season with three runner-up finishes, a third place and two top 10 finishes in six starts to rank fifth in the current senior rankings.

He found more of that consistency to overcome a bogey start with nine straight pars.

‘I pulled my second shot and hit my first into the face of the greenside bunker,’ said Phillips. ‘A proper fried egg. I hacked out over the pin and two-putted for a good bogey. It wasn’t the ideal start, but when you still have 17 holes, you don’t sweat the small stuff.’

It was Phillips’ excellent short game that allowed him to pull clear of the pack led by Kamps. He kept the round going with a great par save at the 5th and established himself as the man to catch with a trio of birdies from the 11th hole.

‘I pushed my drive almost into the hazard at the short hole,’ Phillips said. ‘I had a chip of about 35 feet and it was uphill. I had to play the shot blind, because I couldn’t see the flag and I hit it to eight inches. That was a big momentum saver.

‘The birdie at 11th was stock standard. I hit driver, 5-wood just left of the green and made a good up-and-down, boxing a two-footer for four. I went with the driver down 12th and hit a soft pitching wedge to eight foot and made the putt.

‘The 13th was playing short and I hit my driver five metres short of the green and made another good up-and-down for birdie. My last birdie came at 15th, where I also chipped it close and holed the birdie putt for four.

‘I had 162 metres to flag [at the 16th], so I decided to cut a 6-iron in and the wind died on me. I pulled it into the rough and couldn’t up-and-down to save par,’ Phillips added.

The 2015 Players Championship winner closed with successive pars to put in a favourable position in the senior amateur circuit’s flagship event, but is fully aware that even a four-shot lead cannot be taken for granted.

Second Round Scores
139 Morgan Phillips (70 69)
143 Craig Kamps (70 73)
145 Stanley de Beer (76 69); Stephen Cullen (72 73); Derek Reyneke (71 74)
146 Rurik Gobel (76 70); B Chernotsky (74 72); Ramon Rahme (73 73)
148 Alex Pillay (77 71); Wilhelm de Kock (73 75); Pieter Cooper (72 76); Basil Naidoo (72 76)

Photo: Morgan Phillips leads the field into the final round at Heron Banks River and Golf Estate on Friday, by Ernest Blignault.


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