18th August 2016 | Big Easy IGT Golf

McClatchie nails clutch putt to win Kyalami Challenge

DSC_0178(PHOTO – Kyle McClatchie; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 17 August 2016 – Nineteen-year-old Kyle McClatchie – the first golfer to fly the flag for South Africa in golf’s first staging at the Youth Olympics in 2014 – sealed a sensational maiden IGT Tour win in the Kyalami Challenge on Wednesday.

The Ekurhuleni amateur holed a 25-foot clutch putt for birdie at the closing hole at Kyalami Country Club for a two under par final round 70 to claim a one shot victory at five under 211 in just his second start on the country’s premier development Tour.

The victory follows a third place finish in the Irene Challenge and a runner-up finish on the Big Easy Tour in July and McClatchie was simply delighted with the result, even if it came at the expense of fellow amateur Tristen Strydom.

“I can’t tell you how good this feels, because it’s been a long time coming,” said the country’s former number one ranked junior.

“I knew it would be battle. Tristen and I both play out of Serengeti, we both play for Ekurhuleni and we’ve competed against each other for years. He is a class player and you can see that the back injury of last year is a thing of the past. When he won the Irene Challenge, he began showing the form that took him to the number one spot in the rankings and I knew I had to bring my A-game to beat him.”
The pair began the final round at three under with a one shot lead, but McClatchie battled to keep his place at the top of the leaderboard.

“I was trailing Tristen by two after dropping shots at the second and third, but I got back to level with good birdies at four and six,” he said. “Then I made an ugly bogey at seven when my second shot came up short in the bunker and I couldn’t up-and-down to save par.

“I hit my best shot of the day, though, when I chipped from the short side of the green at eight and made the birdie putt to get back to level. That gave me some momentum again to take into the back nine.”

After a bogey at four, Strydom rushed into the lead with birdies at four and seven, but he dealt his title hunt a blow with a double bogey the par-five ninth. That error handed McClatchie a one shot lead into the back nine and his gains at 13 and 18 proved decisive when Strydom dropped another shot at 11.

“I stayed patient and played for pars to give myself a chance over the closing holes,” McClatchie said. “At the first par five, I was on the green in two and made two good putts for birdie. Tristen was chasing again after birdies at 13 and 14 and I only had a one shot lead when we reached 18.

“I knew with his length he could get on the green in two, so I had to try and finish strong. I hit three-wood off the tee and stayed in the fairway and his tee shot ended in the trees. Then he threaded a brilliant shot through the trees just short of the green, so the pressure was on. I left my approach 40 metres short with the water long, and chipped to 25 feet. It was a big putt, but I holed it to match Tristen’s birdie to win.”

McClatchie was inside the top 10 at the end of 2014, but his final year at King Edward VII School (KES) meant he fell well down the rankings. Victory in the Boland Amateur Stroke Play and 11 top 10 finishes this season rocketed him to sixth in the current amateur standings and he is feeling very positive after his IGT Tour win.

“I’ll take a lot of confidence to the KwaZulu-Natal Amateur next week,” said the Wanna Be A Champion Academy player. “I’ve had to work really hard to get back into form and it’s great to get this win under belt. Watching the golf at the Olympics took me back to Nanjing and all the great memories and experiences I had at the Youth Olympics. It probably also played a small role in this result and I’m really stoked about what the rest of the season will bring.”

Strydom signed for a 71 to finish alone in second, while NJ Arnoldi – another former Ekurhuleni amateur – also made a strong bid with four birdies on the front nine. However, his challenge collapsed with a double bogey at 11 and a bogey at 17. Arnoldi signed for a 67 to take third on three under.

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