GEORGE (23 October 2013) – Gauteng North’s Leon Scheepers has the early jump on the rest of pack in the annual Indwe Risk Services SA Senior Amateur Open Championship at the business end of Wednesday’s first round at Fancourt.
The Zwartkops golfer looked right at home at the coast as he completed a flawless back nine to sign for a two-under-par 70 and a one shot lead at the Montague course. And so he should, having had the chance to become well acquainted with the three courses at Fancourt when he lived in George for four years.
“I left George four years ago, but I played the three courses regularly and I have to say, I was very comfortable out there,” he said.
Scheepers only took up golf in his mid-thirties, something he thoroughly regrets today, but he has slowly worked his way up the ranks. He shared the Limpopo Senior Open title last year, but has yet to enter the winner’s circle this season. However, the 52-year-old came to George on the back of a top 10 finish at the North West Senior Open earlier this month.
“Some days I wish I had taken it up when I was younger, but as they say, golf has no age limit,” he said.
“It’s great to have reached the level where I can compete against the best in the country, although I wasn’t exactly expecting to be leading this tournament.”
Scheepers opened with two pars, but dropped a shot at the par-three 12th, and erased a birdie at the 17th with a bogey at the 18th to turn in 36. He hit his stride with a brace of birdies at the fourth and fifth holes finished with a flourish with a closing birdie at the par-five ninth.
“The course was set up very well and it was a fair fight out there,” he said. “There was very little wind and if I had a little luck with the putter, it could have easily been a 66.”
But Scheepers knows he will have his job cut out to stay ahead of the logjam in his rear-view mirror.
SA Senior Order of Merit leader Francois le Roux made a strong bid for his first SA Senior Open title with five birdies and four bogeys to join Chris Delport from Zwartkops and Gavin van Aswegen from Royal Johannesburg & Kensington in joint second on 71.
Humewood’s David Konzani is just two shots off the pace in joint fifth alongside Thys Marais from Greenside Colliery, Kyalami’s Colin Hayward and Lawrence Franklin from Houghton.
Defending champion Mellette Hendrikse threatens in joint ninth at one over par alongside 2013 winners Peter van Coller and Morgan Phillips, as well as Adrian Kriel, Lynton Beckett and David Ackerman, and three-time Indwe Risk Services SA Senior Amateur Open champion Jock Wellington – in the bus at two over par – can never be discounted.
The second round will see action move to the Outeniqua course where Scheepers hopes to put some distance between himself and the chasing pack.
“I will need to pick up a few birdies early on to give myself a little breathing space, because those boys are going to come for me,” he predicted. “Mostly, I just have to focus on my game and let things happen; I should let them worry about their own games.”