Quintin van Jaarsveld
Graham Fabricius started the year on a perfect note when he clinched his maiden Southern KwaZulu-Natal Closed title at Port Shepstone Country Club on Sunday.
The 22-year-old bested 34 other players in the 36-hole competition, which retained last year’s modified stableford format which saw players earn two points for a par, four for a birdie and eight for an eagle while losing a point for a double bogey or worse.
Playing on his home course, Fabricius was strong off the tee, cashed in with the flat blade and made no major mistakes to seal the silverware on 70 points.
In doing so, he made his 2016 intentions clear and solidified himself as one of the region’s leading up-and-coming golfers.
He struggled initially to build momentum, which left him seven points adrift of first-round leader Jarrod van Wyk (38) despite sinking four birdies.
However, the Shelly Beach-based golfer found his rhythm in the second round, sinking five birdies to pip a returning Victor Mbhele to the post by a single point.
“I’m very pleased and relieved to have won. To start the year like this will certainly give me more confidence going into the rest of the year,” Fabricius told eHowzit.
“With the event being held at my home course where I spend hours on end practicing, there was no other option really than winning.
“I knew I was playing well but it [the win] still came as a bit of a surprise in the end, especially after shooting an average first 18 holes.
“I just put the first round aside and started the second round knowing anything is possible. I tried to keep it solid and play the way I know I can.”
Touching on the format, he said, “The format didn’t bother me because I play a lot of competitions at Sheppie that’s points based. Knowing I’d make some birdies, the format actually suited me.”
Fabricius said he was satisfied with his overall performance and that he was able to avoid costly errors.
“My game was solid all round but a little sloppy here and there. I drove the ball well, which set me up to hit it close with the irons. My putting wasn’t that great but I still holed a few crucial ones, especially on the final nine holes. Looking back now, that gave me the win in the end.
“I’m glad that I managed to stay solid throughout the day and not make big mistakes or follow up one mistake with another. I’m also happy that I didn’t lose a ball and played all 36 holes with one ball.”
Fabricius, the reigning Pro-Vision club champion and the club’s 2015 Most Promising Player of the Year, credited his time at the club as one of the keys to his success.
“Playing with Pro-Vision and being part of them the last three-and-a-half years have been great and really made my golf what it is today. Thanks to Pro-Vision and to David Rush for putting me in these events and helping me with my golf.”
Tournament organiser David Rush, who placed ninth, commented, “It was great to see Graham come through and win on his home course.
“It was also good to see Victor Mbhele back playing competitive golf after a few years’ absence. Unfortunately, defending champion Gavin Sole did not play, but it gave someone else a chance to get his name on the trophy.
“The course was soft after the recent rain and scoring was thus pretty good.”
Explaining the format, Rush said, “We tried the modified stableford approach last year and it proved quite popular.
“The reason is that the Closed is used as an indicator towards league selection, and as league is matchplay, we felt that this format would produce more ‘matchplay’ type golf.”
SKZN Closed at Port Shepstone:
Modified Stableford (8 eagle, 4 birdie, 2 par, 0 bogey, -1 double bogey or worse)
1 Graham Fabricius 70 (31 39) [75 71]
2 Victor Mbhele 69 (25 44) [78 68]
3 Jarrod van Wyk 67 (38 31) [71 74]
3 Elvis Khawula 67 (33 34) [74 73]
5 Horst Wortmann 66 (30 36) [76 72]
6 Warren van Heerden 64 (36 28) [72 76]
7 Gary Purtell 63 (31 32) [75 74]
7 Patrick Mavundla 63 (30 33) [75 74]
9 David Rush 62 (30 32) [76 74]
10 Sean Baker 61 (32 29) [74 76]
11 Francois Botha 59 (30 29) [75 76]
12 Ronnie Mtshaka 58 (24 32) [79 74]
13 Douglas Sima 56 (32 24) [74 79]
14 Robert Mavundla 56 (27 29) [77 76]