11th January 2018 | Sunshine Tour
McClatchie and Higgo in the mix at Glendower
By Lali Stander
South Africa’s top ranked amateurs Kyle McClatchie (pictured) and Garrick Higgo laid down an early marker in the opening round of the BWM SA Open, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.
The duo registered a pair of four-under-par 68s at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday to grab an early share of third alongside Matt Wallace from England, Adrien Saddier from France and Sunshine Tour champions Jacques Blaauw and Ulrich van den Berg.
The six-pack lag three shots behind early pacesetter Chase Koepka from the United States.
World number 129 McClatchie fired up the home crowd with five birdies over the first six holes of his homeward loop. Errant tee shots 16 and 18 cost him two shots, but the reigning English Mens Stroke Play champion was upbeat after a solid start in the national championship.
“To be within striking distance is a just icing on the cake,” said the 20-year-old Serengeti golfer.
“This was a much better effort than last year. I got two important birdies away at 15 and 16 after a soft bogey at the second and I made a great up-and-down from the bunker at 17 to keep the round going.”
McClatchie holed a 10-footer for birdie at the first and tapped in for birdie at the par-five second before he racked up three birdies on the trot at four, five and six.
“Four and five are the toughest scoring holes, so I was really glad to come through those with a pair of birdies,” he said.
“I drove it straight into the trees left at seven. All I could do was punch out. I hit a wedge to 10 feet, but I missed the putt. At the eighth I made a great par-save after a poor shot right and short-siding myself with an even poorer second shot.”
For as long as he can remember, McClatchie has battled at the par-four ninth.
“Today was no different,” he said. “I hit my tee shot left in the trees, chipped out sideways, hit a good wedge to 12 foot, but missed the putt.
“I’m not disheartened by those bogeys, though. I had a solid round and a bit of good luck cancelled a bad lie or a bad tee shot here and there. The international experience I gained in Europe and the United States this past year has really helped me to settle on this stage. I had a good attitude and I was much more relaxed out there.”
Fellow GolfRSA National Squad player Higgo also benefited from exposure at the highest level.
The Stellenbosch golfer – who leads the South African Golf Association’s Open Amateur rankings – reached the semi-final of the U.S. Junior Amateur in July and represented the International Team in the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup last September.
Higgo made a great start with birdies at four, eight, 10 and 13 to hand in a clean card.
“I was a little disappointed when I missed a 10-footer for birdie at 18, but otherwise I’m really happy with the start I made,” he said. “I boxed a 10-footer at the fourth and tapped in for birdie at the other three holes. Unfortunately I got a little unlucky with my second shot at 15. I knew I hit it close to the green. I just missed the bunker, but I had to stand in the bunker. It was a very awkward stance and a tough chip to execute and I ended up missing the birdie chance.”
South Africa’s number four ranked Matt Saulez was equally impressive with a three-under-par 69; this just a day after the KwaZulu-Natal amateur claimed the third and final qualifying spot available at Irene Country Club at the third hole of a four-way play-off.