Friday, March 02, 2012


Leven Golfing  Society’s Brian Soutar has kept the South Africa Amateur title in Scottish hands after he brilliantly emulated compatriot Michael Stewart to claim the biggest title of his career.
The 27-year-old Fifer has taken his golf to a new level by defeating South Africa’s No 1 amateur player, 18-year-old rising star Brandon Stone, 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final at Mowbray Golf Club, Cape Town.
Soutar, part of a seven-man SGU National Men’s Squad who are in South Africa for a winter performance programme, supported by Aberdeen Asset Management and South African businessman Johann Rupert, quickly follows in the footsteps of Walker Cup hero Stewart who defeated Paul Shields in the all-Scottish final 12 months ago.
In winning the prestigious event, South Africa’s oldest amateur competition, Soutar has etched his name on a trophy that includes Ernie Els and Retief Goosen and, memorably, also booked his place in the European Tour’s South Africa Open in November.
Scotland international Soutar won the Leven Gold Medal in 2007 and claimed the Scottish Champion of Champions last April, as well as helping Fife to a first-ever Moneygate Scottish Area Team Championship crown last summer. For a player who was blighted by a back injury at the start of 2011, this is his sweetest success yet.
After the first 18 holes off the final finished all-square, Soutar moved two up with successes at the 2nd and 7th holes of the afternoon round, before Stone showed his battling qualities with victories at the 11th and 13th to draw level again.
But Soutar, who showed great resolve and nerve to win his quarter-final and semi-final after extra holes, refused to let the contest slip from his grasp and claimed wins at the 14th, thanks to a superb eagle, and the 16th. A par-4 at the 17th was enough for glory.
Speaking after being thrown in a pool by his jubilant team-mates to cool down amid the hot temperatures, Soutar said: “It’s absolutely brilliant for me, a fantastic achievement.
“It was always going to be a tough match against Brandon, he is some player and there is no doubt he will be on our TV screens one day, but I played well all week. I felt like it was meant to be, I was quite calm all week.
“I had a bad round at the South African Stroke Play, I shot 85 in the final round, but I sat down with (SGU National Coach) Ian Rae and we just felt it was a freak score. I worked even harder on my game from that point on and I just peaked at the right time this week. All my work has paid off.”
Soutar paid particular tribute to Stewart, who was in touch before the final, and is already counting down to his European Tour bow.
He added: “Michael was on Facebook wishing me luck last night which was nice of him. He has been here before, so he was just telling me to stay calm and enjoy it.
“I can’t wait for the South African Open – my European Tour debut. That’s what you dream of. Winning this event will also be good for me in terms of team selections this year.”
Rae praised Soutar for a notable achievement. “It’s absolutely fantastic for Brian and Scottish Golf, what a great result,” he said. “To win the South African Amateur title two years in a row is incredible.
“It’s a big event and Brandon Stone is an excellent player, which makes the win for Brian even more impressive. It’s a phenomenal achievement so soon after Michael’s win.”
Hamish Grey, SGU chief executive, added: “Brian’s achievement is reward for all his hard work in Abu Dhabi and South Africa over the winter. Everyone at the Scottish Golf Union is delighted for him.”
+Picture of Brian Soutar with the championship trophy courtesy of Luke Walker.




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