Smit takes Glacier Junior Series win in playoff
Combrinck Smit joined Zander Lombard as only the second junior to win a Glacier Junior Series Tournament three years in succession since the popular Glacier by Sanlam series launched in 2010 when he edged out Siyanda Mwandla in a sudden-death playoff at the Papwa Sewgolum Tournament on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old Eshowe golfer fired a three-over par 75 at Durban Country Club, which Mwandla from Shakaskraal matched to force the tournament into extra time.
Back at the 18thand facing a stiff breeze, Smit split the fairway with his tee shot and landed 30 feet short of the green, while Mwandla’s drive landed left and short. The 17-year-old chipped to eight feet, but his birdie putt slipped just past the hole. Meanwhile Smit elected to putt and left himself with an eight-footer for birdie to secure the win.
“Siya’s first putt just, just slipped past the hole and I knew he would nail that par putt, because he is so solid with the putter,” the elated teenager said. “I knew I had to make my putt count, so I just got really, really still over that putt, stroked it and held my breath as it crawled to the hole.
“It took forever to get there and drop, I nearly ran out of breath. This is my last year as a junior and I really, really wanted to win. I guess it’s true what they say about self-belief because I kept telling myself, all the way from Eshowe and all day on the golf course, that I was going to win. It’s a great relief to win and to know I’m going to the final again.”.
But, said Smit, he would like to see Mwandla at the final.
“He missed a short putt in regulation play to win,” he said. “I’m glad I’ve won, but I would have been glad to see Siya go the final, too. “What he has achieved in his career is just amazing. Three years ago he was a caddie at Mandini Golf Club and now he is one of our top juniors in KwaZulu-Natal.”
Mwandla joined the South African Golf Development Board in 2008 and, within two years, was playing off a low single handicap. He has since been enrolled in the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation. “There are a few more tournaments still to come,” said Smit. “I’ve urged him to keep trying, because not only does he deserve to be at the final, he will gain so much from the tournament.”
Smit and Lombard, who won the season-opening Dale Hayes Tournament at Mowbray in January, will join the other 23 winners at the National Final later this year where they will compete for the chance to tee it up at the 2012 Orange Bowl Junior Invitational in the United States.
“To play in the Glacier Junior Series is a great way to learn how to cope with the pressure of tournament golf and I could see how much progress I’ve made since my first win,” said Smit. “I played really well, I never put myself under pressure and even when I had a double bogey at the 17th, I just forgot about it and focussed on the next hole.
“At the National Final, the pressure will be even greater but this year I’m really looking forward to challenge and try to and win that trip to the Orange Bowl. I think it’s an amazing opportunity; I mean, it’s the only time you’ll ever tee it up against the best junior golfers in the world.”
PAPWA SEWGOLUM TOURNAMENT RESULTS (Durban Country Club, 26 June 2012)
A-Division (1-6 Handicap)
1. Combrink Smit 75 gross (play-off)
2. Siyanda Mwandla 75 gross
3. Ettienne Jonck 77 (on count out)
Best Nett – Andrew Earle 73 (on count out)
B-Division (7-18 Handicap)
1. Kelvin Donnely 84
2. Liam McIlroy 85 (on count out)
3. Sabelo Majola 85
Best Nett – Murray Dalton 71
C-Division (19-36 Handicap)
1. Andrew Inggs 45 pts
2. Liam Ross 42 pts
3. Timothy Bean 37