REBULA WINS AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
South Africa’s Jovan Rebula has won the 123rdAmateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland.
The 20-year-old defeated Ireland’s Robin Dawson 3&2 in the final to become the first South African to lift the trophy since Bobby Cole in 1966.
Rebula, who is Ernie Els’s nephew, secured a place in next month’s Open Championship at Carnoustie, next year’s US Open at Pebble Beach and, by tradition, an invitation to the Masters in 2019.
Arriving at the tournament a lowly 192ndin the world amateur ranking, Rebula took command of the final early on, striking the first blow to go one-up with a birdie at the par-five sixth. The South African then took advantage when Dawson bogeyed the seventh and eighth to go three-up. However, the Irishman pulled one back immediately with a birdie of his own to cut Rebula’s lead to two holes at the turn.
Dawson, who won the Irish Amateur at Royal County Down in May, closed the gap further when Rebula conceded the 13thhole. With Rebula at 1up, the finalists headed into the lunch break with everything to play for.
After fighting his way to three-up in the early stages of the afternoon, Rebula stamped his authority on the match by winning the 26thand 27thholes, which included a 25-foot putt for birdie.
Rebula was in cruise control with a lead of five-up with six to play, and looked certain to secure the championship before nerves kicked in and Dawson claimed two holes back.It took until the 16thwhere he made a clinical save from the sand to win the championship and etch his name in history.
“I’m shattered,” were the winner’s first words. “It’s been a long week. I should have finished off the final a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. Winning tournaments is what all of us dream of, and being able to stand here with trophy is what we play and work for.”
On the prospect of playing in the Open next month, Rebula added: “Growing up in South Africa, the Open Championship is the major that you want to win. I’m so looking forward to playing Carnoustie. I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard about how brutal it is, so I amj ust going to go out and enjoy the experience, and everything else that comes with winning this tournament.”
Dawson, although disappointed to fall at the final hurdle, was pleased with his overall week’s work.“I am pretty happy. If you offered me finishing second at the start of the week I would have definitely taken it, but then again, when you get so close it’s frustrating, so I have a lot of mixed emotions.I wasn’t really clawing my way back into it in the end, Jovan was giving holes away. But to be fair to him, it was a great up and down on the 16th to win it. He’s definitely a very worthy winner this week.”