Victory may have proved elusive but it remained a fruitful week for Ireland’s travelling amateurs at Leopard Creek.
James Sugrue was joined by his GB&I Walker Cup teammate Caolan Rafferty as the pair settled for a tie for sixth place at three-over par, seven shots behind home favourite Martin Vorster and Frilford’s Olly Huggin’s who couldn’t be separated after 72-holes.
In the end it was teenage sensation Vorster who claimed the crown in a playoff – a young man who should be familiar to Irish golf fans as Vorster was a 17-year old South African raider who put the East of Ireland field to the sword by four strokes at Baltray last year.
As for Ireland’s closest hopefuls, Mallow’s Sugrue returned two birdies in a four-over par round of 76 as his fine challenge eventually fizzled out in the South African sunshine.
Dundalk’s Rafferty played his way into the tournament as the week went on with a highlight being a moving day ace on Wednesday.
The Maynooth scholar closed with a two-over par 74 and will now travel with the rest of the GUI squad to next week’s South African Stroke Play full of confidence.
Tom McKibbin will be another riding the crest of a wave as he looks to continue his rich vein of form. A beaten finalist in last month’s Australian Amateur, the Holywood teenager signed off with an even par 72 to grab a tie for 9th at plus-five.
Malone’s Matthew McClean signed off with a seven-over par 79 for a top-40 finish, two shots clear of Naas amateur Rob Brazill who carded a final round 76.
The squad now moves on to next week’s South African Stroke Play at Randpark.
Full scoring HERE
South Africa squad to play the South African Stroke Play (10-13 Feb) in Randpark:
Robert Brazill (Naas); Keith Egan (Carton House); Rowan Lester (Hermitage); Matthew McClean (Malone); Tom McKibbin (Holywood); Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene); Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk); James Sugrue (Mallow)
The GUI’s High Performance Programme is supported by Sport Ireland and Sport NI.