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Stapleton flies flag for SA in India

Shaun Stapleton is the last man standing in the 116th Amateur Golf Championship of India after Western Province senior Francois le Roux was eliminated in the first round of the match play stage on Thursday.

The mid-amateur from Wanderers in Central Gauteng captured a hard-fought for 2 & 1 victory over Amit Luthra from Delhi to advance to Friday’s second round. Le Roux, however, lost 2-down to Yuvraj Sandhu from Punjab, who took sixth place in the 36-hole Stroke Play Qualifier.

Stapleton started nicely with a great down the first, but his opponent matched him shot for shot and the hole was halved.

He lost the second, but made a superb up-and-down at the third to win the hole and square the match. ‘It was a very tough match and after the third hole, the score was never more than 1-up in favour of either player,’ said assistant manager David Younge.

‘Shaun didn’t have the best day off the tees and had to scramble a lot with shots under trees or around trees. At the 15th, Amit duffed a little chip and then three-putted from nowhere and Stapes won the hole on a bogey to square once again.’

On 16, Sandhu hit his approach to five feet and Stapleton rifled a gap-wedge to seven feet, and when the Indian missed his putt, the South African used the opportunity well.

‘Stapes boxed the putt to go 1-up with two to play,’ said Younge. ‘At 17, Stapes hit another bad drive which landed him under the trees, but again, he produced a miraculous seven-iron that hit the front edge of the green and rolled up to the pin. He boxed the 10-footer for birdie to win the match 2 & 1.’

Stapleton was pretty unhappy with his driving, but said his putter and caddie saved him. ‘I am putting like a dream, but the only way I got the ball in the hole was thanks to my caddie,’ he said.

‘He is a local guy from Calcutta and he read these greens like a book. He gave me amazing lines all day and the short stick did the rest to get me through.’

The second round will be played Friday morning, followed by the quarter-finals in the afternoon.

Picture of Stapleton and caddie courtesy of SAGA


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