Last year, Louis Taylor won the Freddie Tait trophy as leading amateur at the SA Open, but in the tough world of golf, he finds himself one of 377 players having to try to qualify for this year’s 104th South African Open Championship.
He closed with a six-over-par 78 to complete a good week, while his twin brother Eddie, who had missed out on qualification for the Sunshine Tour showpiece at Glendower Golf Club, watched from the sidelines.
And in a strange quirk of fate, Eddie managed to gain his card as a Sunshine Tour professional at Qualifying School in Bloemfontein in January, while Louis was the one who missed out.
But they both have to qualify for the tournament which starts on January 8 – Louis at Kempton Park Golf Club and Eddie at Zwartkop Country Club on Tuesday January 6. And, from the 377 who tee it up at those two courses and at Irene Country Club, only 12 will advance to the main field in the second-oldest Open Championship in golf. So it’s a tough task.
The Taylors were born in Harrismith in the Free State and then schooled at Hilton College, KwaZulu-Natal. There their sporting talent came to the fore and both were capped for the school’s first cricket team. They also excelled at hockey and were selected for the under-19 KwaZulu-Natal inter-provincial side.
Despite their success on the cricket and hockey fields, the Taylors turned to golf when they completed their schooling and relocated to Gauteng, where they attended the Gary Player Golf School of Excellence.
Eddie has had a tough introduction to the world of professional golf, with his best finish coming at Pezula in the final of the Vodacom Origins of Gold series presented by Samsung when he closed with a 69 to share 18th. His biggest payday came in the Telkom Business PGA Championship where his share of 34th brought him R27,750. He lies 109th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, so qualifying for and finishing well in the season-closing SA Open would be a big boost for him.
And Louis will want to get into the field and do better than he did last year. “After playing the SA Open, I know now it is a big step from amateur level,” he said. “You can see it in every aspect and the organisation is just so professional. I’m glad that I’ve experienced it, seen it and got a glimpse of what is to come.”