The 150th Open next month at St Andrews and the Masters and the US Open next year are all now on the diary of South Africa’s 17-year-old sensation Aldrich Potgieter after he won amateur golf’s biggest prize – the 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes – over the weekend.
Potgieter held off a strong comeback from Englishman Sam Bairstow to seal a 3 & 2 victory in the thrilling 36-hole final at the Lancashire links course. He became just the third South African to lift the prestigious title after Bobby Cole (Carnoustie, 1966) and Jovan Rebula (Royal Aberdeen, 2018), and the second-youngest winner of The Amateur since Matteo Manassero triumphed in 2009 at the age of 16.
“It’s really amazing,” Potgieter said. “I can’t really find the words; there’s no feeling like it and I haven’t felt this good before.
“It will take some time to sink in, because right now the words can’t even come out of my mind to describe how I feel,” the Mossel Bay golfer said.
And for now, all he can think about is teeing it up at one of the most famous venues in sport as the 150th celebration of the Open goes to the home of golf, St Andrews, where massive crowds are expected from July 14-17.
“I’m really excited. I played the Old Course recently during the St Andrews Links Trophy and it was really amazing. I’m really looking forward to the experience and The Open has always been my favourite Major because of all the history it holds.
“I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I’d be playing The Open at this age. It’s a dream come true and it’s going to be a tough few weeks, waiting out the return trip back to St Andrews,.” Potgieter said.
Pinnacle Point staff celebrate
The staff at Pinnacle Point, where Potgieter plays his golf, were quick to celebrate his achievement on social media and it has been a meteoric rise for the big-hitter.
Potgieter and his family had been living in Australia for nine years before they returned to South Africa in December last year. Having been 6 000th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking in 2019, by the time he returned home, he had risen to 2 800th and was West Australia’s No.1 junior and ranked sixth in Australia.
He announced himself in spectacular fashion on the GolfRSA circuit, winning the Nomads SA Boys U19 Strokeplay Championship and backing up that tournament record 20-shot victory at Royal Cape with an 8 & 7 win to lift the SA Boys Matchplay title — becoming only the fifth junior since 1963 to complete that rare double after Richard Sterne (1999), Dylan Frittelli (2008), Zander Gous (2013) and Jayden Schaper (2015).
Ranked 140th in the world before the dream week at Royal Lytham, Potgieter has cemented his spot alongside fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Casey Jarvis and Yurav Premlall in the International Team for the 2022 Junior Presidents Cup in North Carolina in September.