CRAIGIE Hill’s Daniel Young hailed his victory in the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship yesterday as the pinnacle of his career.
Young defeated Southern Cape’s Jovan Rebula 8&6 in the 36-hole final at Silver Lakes Golf Estate to celebrate Scotland’s third victory in five years in South Africa’s premier amateur championship.
The last Scot standing was thrilled to follow in the footsteps of his compatriots Michael Stewart and Brian Soutar, who triumphed in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and humbled to add his name to the marquee list of champions that includes Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman.
“This is massive, the biggest win of my career so far,” the Perthshire player said.
“I’ve won a few tournaments before, but this is by far the biggest win. You look at the trophy and there are some massive, massive names on it. To get my name alongside them is great. It speaks volumes for how I played this week.”
Young proved too strong for 17-year-old Rebula on the day.
He notched seven birdies and an eagle over the opening 18 holes to take a commanding 3-up lead at the halfway mark.
In the second trip around the Tshwane layout, the Scot extended his lead to 5-up with gains on the sixth and seventh holes and made good par saves at eight and nine to take a commanding lead into the back nine. “I felt really confident on the course,” said the 23-year-old Scot.
“I had a really strong game plan and I executed it very well. The putt on six was crucial, and I fancied it. I hit a great putt and it went right in the middle.
“I had to scramble a bit for a four on eight and I holed a nice putt up the hill on nine.”
Young ended Rebula’s title bid at the 12th hole with a birdie to close out victory.
Young won several times on the college circuit during a four-year stint at Lynn University in Florida and earned two-time All-American honours and three-time All-Sunshine State Conference honours.
He said he was targeting victory in the championship after he opened the week with a pacesetting five-under 67 in the Stroke Play qualifier on Sunday.
A member of the Scottish Golf Union Men’s National Squad, Young has spent eight weeks in the country with his compatriots and competed in several provincial events, as well as the annual Leopard Trophy and Triangular Tests.
The victory put the seal on a successful South African sojourn for Young.
Rebula paid credit to an impressive performance from his Scottish opponent.
“I’ve gained a lot of mental experience this week,” said the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member.
“I am very glad for Danny, because he played very well and didn’t make any mistakes. It’s not easy playing against a guy like that and I think we will both take a lot away from this final.
“I’m hoping to take this experience here to the next level for the next few weeks and the future.”
The 2014 Proudfoot Trophy champion thanked his support group for helping him reach the final. “The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation and my parents have helped me so much in my career,” he said. “It was a big honour to represent them, and I’m a happy man right now.”
Grandfather Neels Els patrolled the fairways, while his father, Dragan, did bag duty this week. “It’s always fun having my dad on the bag in those emotional moments out there,” Rebula said.
“We both get frustrated with each other at times, but I really enjoy spending time with my dad and I think he also enjoys being out there with me. And it’s always fantastic to have my granddad’s support.”
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