Van Baalen breaks through at KZN Disabled Open
Thursday, 4 May 2023: After knocking on the door time and again over the past 15 months, Kelvin Van Baalen clinched his maiden SADGA Open victory after a final round of 70 to emerge victorious by three shots over Iglin Grobbelaar in the Nomads Kwa-Zulu Natal Disabled Open at Mount Edgecombe Country Club’s The Woods on Thursday.
It was always a case of when rather than if Van Baalen was going to earn his first victory and he did so in some style. Trailing overnight leader Grobbelaar by three heading into the final round, Van Baalen made the ideal start to his round with a birdie-4 at the 3rd. Though he bogeyed the two holes which followed, the Les Autres golfer notched a second red number at the 6th. A third birdie at the 9th offset a bogey at the 7th as Van Baalen made the turn in even-par 35. Grobbelaar meanwhile carded a front-nine 38 which set the stage for an exciting final nine holes.
Van Baalen made a steady start to his inward-half with four consecutive pars. While playing partner Grobbelaar’s challenge faltered with dropped shots at the 13th, 15th and 16th, Van Baalen enjoyed timely back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th respectively. This afforded him something of a cushion and despite bogeying the 16th and 18th, Van Baalen completed a round of even par and a victory that’ll live long in the memory.
“I played well in round one but just couldn’t hole a putt so I knew going into the final round that if I made some putts I could definitely be in with a shot,” said Van Baalen.
“I felt confident going into the back-nine even though I didn’t play it well in the first round but I’d been hitting the ball well the whole week so there was no reason I couldn’t play well.
“There was a momentum shift on the par-5 14th where I made birdie while Iglin made par and before I knew it there was a four-shot swing in my favour within three holes.
“I made a few more putts in the final round and I’m very happy to have taken my first SADGA Open title.”
Crawford Clinches Physically-Disabled Stableford title
Sebastian Crawford capped off two rounds of solid golf with a second successive round of 33 points and a nine-point victory over Luke Mckenzie.
Crawford’s front-nine was highlighted by three-pointers at the 2nd, 3rd and 7th as he made the turn with 16 points to his name.
Despite carding three one-pointers on the inward half, Crawford carded two three-pointers and three two-pointers over the back-nine. With the other players unable to make any significant inroads into the deficit, the Les Autres golfer ultimately prevailed comfortably.
Williams outduels Botha for Deaf Medal Victory
Seemingly whenever Deaflympic teammates Jay-Jay Botha and Charles Williams find themselves in the same field an almost head-to-head battle for the title ensues and this event was no different with Williams emerging victorious in a sudden-death playoff.
Botha was in the driver’s seat by four over Williams with 18 holes to play having carded an opening round of 10-over par 80. But behind Williams’ ever-present smile lies a gritty competitor so the result was anything but a foregone conclusion.
The pair engaged in a fascinating nip and tuck battle for much of the front-nine with two-shot swings in favour of each player at the 6th and 7th. A birdie-3 by Botha at the 6th was followed by a Williams red number at the 7th. With Williams ultimately turning in 35 to Botha’s 38, there was just one shot in it with nine holes to play.
The pair traded blows in the initial stages of the inward nine but the defining moment came when Botha dropped a shot at the 17th, falling back into a tie with Williams.
Pars apiece at the 18th meant extra holes were required to separate the two. The first hole of sudden-death was halved before Williams prevailed at the next, earning the Deaf Medal title and with it bragging rights over his friend!