LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND – JUNE 18: Aldrich Potgieter of South Africa pictured after winning the R&A Amateur Championship during the Final of day six of the R&A Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on June 18, 2022 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
Lytham St Annes, England, June 18: Teenaged South African Aldrich Potgieter completed a dream win that gets him into at three Majors. He also gets into one DP World event and gets a lot of World amateur ranking a points and a place in the storied history as he won The 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
He held off a great comeback from Sam Bairstow in the 36-hole Final over the Lancashire links. The 17-year-old Potgieter secured a nail-biting 3&2 victory over the Englishman in the 36-hole Final to become the youngest winner of The Amateur since Matteo Manassero triumphed in 2009 aged 16.
After a superb bogey-free four-under-par 66 in the morning session gave Potgieter a seven-up lead, Bairstow, 23, mounted a superb comeback to claw back to two down with four to play.
There were echoes of Laird Shepherd’s comeback from eight down at Nairn last year, but Potgieter displayed a maturity beyond his years and an exceptional short game to seal a memorable win on his first-ever visit to the UK this summer.
Potgieter, placed 140th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®), can now look forward to competing in The 150th Open at St Andrews next month, the 2023 US Open and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.
The teenager joins a roll of honour that also includes José María Olazábal, Sergio Garcia and Romain Langasque, will also be invited to play in an event on the DP World Tour.
In front of large crowds in breezy conditions, Potgieter became only the third South African to triumph after Jovan Rebula at Royal Aberdeen in 2018 and Bobby Cole at Carnoustie in 1966.
Bairstow, the leading Great Britain and Ireland player this week at 19th on WAGR®, was bidding to become the first left-hander to win The Amateur in the modern era.
From a 288-man starting field representing 42 countries, the finalists played out an epic contest.
Bairstow had qualified for last year’s Open at Royal St George’s.
After record entries for this week’s Championship at the 11-time Open venue and near-by St Annes Old Links, next year’s staging is at Hillside and Southport & Ainsdale.
What they said:
Aldrich Potgieter, South Africa:
On the win:
“It’s really amazing. I can’t really find the words, there’s no feeling like it and I haven’t felt this good before. The words can’t even come out of my mind.
“On this golf course, going bogey-free on the first 18 holes was incredible for me. I played really well and everything worked out well. I knew Sam was going to do better than he did this morning. He didn’t play too well, but I knew he was going to come out strong. He wasn’t going to give up. I just had to play steady and keep my lead.”
On his major opportunities:
“I’m really excited. I played the Old Course recently (in the Links Trophy) and it was really amazing. I think the course is going to get in better shape so I’m really looking forward to that.
“At the beginning of this week, I just tried to make the cut, make the match play and went from there.”
On regular use of his 2-iron:
“Hitting in the fairway puts a lot of pressure on your opponent. Especially when you’re not comfortable with the driver, you can hit the 2-iron down the middle of the fairway.”
Sam Bairstow, England
“Aldrich played good golf. I don’t think he dropped a shot this morning. Around here, in a bit of wind, that’s great golf. I didn’t have my best stuff this morning. I was probably just a little bit nervy.
“With all the crowds here, there’s a lot of people I know, and that spurred me on a bit this afternoon. I just couldn’t get it all the way back. I was a bit emotional at the end with everyone cheering but unfortunately I couldn’t do it for them.
“But I suppose growing up, if you had said to me, ‘Would you ever reach the final of The Amateur? I’d say, ‘no’. It’s quite special.”
Aldrich Potgieter of South Africa, the winner of The 127th Amateur Championship played at Royal Lytham & St Annes and St Annes Old Links from 13-18 June.