Jovan Rebula, the 20-year-old nephew of two-time Claret Jug winner Ernie Els, is the new Amateur champion after becoming the first South African to claim that coveted prize since Bobby Cole in 1966, writes Martin Dempster.
Rebula beat Irishman Robin Dawson 3 and 2 in the 36-hole title decider at Royal Aberdeen, booking spots in next month’s Open Championship at Carnoustie, as well as both The Masters and US Open next year in the process.
“I’m very happy and very pleased with myself, the way I handled myself this week,” said Rebula, who had been receiving messages of support from his uncle and mentor during the week-long event, afterwards. “I’ve really been playing solid and haven’t made many mistakes. It’s a huge honour for me to call myself the Amateur champion. It’s out of this world.”
The Springbok was never behind in the final at Balgownie Links. He went three up after just eight holes before Tramore man Dawson reduced the deficit to just one at the halfway stage. The contest was effectively decided when Rebula won three holes on the trot early on in the afternoon and then got himself five up with a birdie at the 27th hole.
“Being five up through 27 holes, it’s always difficult when you’ve got such a margin because you don’t know if you should put your foot on the pedal or on the brake,” he added. “I didn’t make it as easy as I thought it would but, at the end of the day, to just get the job done is all that you need.”
Rebula’s victory at the 2014 Scottish Open venue completed a notable South African double in the event’s 123rd staging after his compatriot, Wilco Nienaber, topped the 36-hole qualifying test at Royal Aberdeen and neighbouring Murcar Links.