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Youth Olympian McClatchie back on the winning trail
- Updated: April 30, 2016
Between 2013 and 2014, Ekurhuleni’s former Youth Olympian Kyle McClatchie and Southern Cape’s Jovan Rebula dominated the junior golf circuit at home and the pair was a tour de force for South Africa in international team events.
However, both players faded from the golfing radar last year as academic pressure during the final year in high school mounted. After their matric exams, the formidable duo began the climb back to top in the South African U-19 Inter-Provincial Championship in December last year and, as the age-old sporting adage goes, cream always rises to the top.
Not surprisingly, Rebula rose to the No1 spot in the Open Amateur rankings this week while McClatchie, one of two SA golfers at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, pushed his way to No6.
In early April, Rebula notched back-to-back victories in the Eastern Province/Border Stroke Play and Western Province Amateur. On Wednesday, McClatchie broke through with a podium finish in the Boland Stroke Play Championship.
‘I actually had a chance in East London,’ said the 18-year-old Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate golfer. ‘I was five shots clear of Jovan in the final round, but I bogeyed the last two holes and he beat me for the win. I was playing well, so I knew that my turn would come. I just had to stay patient.’
McClatchie opened with an even-par 72 in the first round at Robertson Golf Club to lag five shots off the pace from Aubrey Beckley.
A flawless nine under 63 in round two put the Wanna Be A Champion player in pole position and he made the most of his second shot at glory.
‘The wind blew really hard in the first round and I had a pretty average start,’ he explained. ‘I had a couple of bogeys, but I knew if I got myself back to level par that I would have a chance.
‘I was off early in round two and I made the most of the good weather. The greens at Robertson were probably the best we’ve played all year and the putter was cooperating nicely. I gave myself a lot of chances and it felt great to post a bogey-free round.’
McClatchie had a two shot cushion going into the final round, but surrendered the lead with back-to-back bogeys at the second and third holes.
‘There were a few very tough pins on the front nine, but I just bided my time and played for pars. Angus (Ellis-Cole) had a great start, but he dropped a couple of shots in the middle of the round and Aubrey also hung in there.
‘I clawed my way back and had a three-shot lead after all three of us birdied 17, so I laid up and played for par and got the win.’ McClatchie closed with a 74 to beat Ellis-Cole and Beckley by two shots on seven under 209.
‘I was definitely building up to winning, but you do wonder if you still have what it takes,’ he said. ‘Jovan said it felt like he got the monkey off his back when he won in East London. That’s exactly how I felt. It was just such a big relief to get the job done.
‘I haven’t felt this good about my game for a long while and hopefully I can extend this run in the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play at San Lameer Country Club next week.’
Picture of McClatchie courtesy of BGU