Jovan Rebula completed the perfect week to claim The 123rd Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen on Saturday.
The 20-year-old was never behind in the 36-hole final and becomes the first South African to lift the historic trophy since Bobby Cole at Carnoustie in 1966 after defeating Ireland’s Robin Dawson 3&2.
Rebula, who is the nephew of two-time Champion Golfer of the Year Ernie Els, secured a place in The 147th Open at Carnoustie, next year’s US Open at Pebble Beach and, by tradition, an invitation to the Masters Tournament in 2019.
Ranked 192 in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, Rebula took command of the final early on striking the first blow to go 1up with a birdie at the par-5 6th hole. The South African then took advantage when Dawson bogeyed the 7th and 8th to go 3up. However, the Irishman pulled one back immediately with a birdie of his own to cut Rebula’s lead to 2 holes at the turn.
The match was extremely close at that point and Dawson, who won the Irish Open Amateur Championship at Royal County Down in May, closed the gap further when Rebula conceded the 13th hole. With Rebula at 1up, the finalists headed into the break with everything to play for.
After fighting his way to 3up in the early stages of the afternoon, Rebula stamped his authority on the match by winning the 26th and 27th holes, which included an incredible 25-foot putt for birdie.
Rebula was in cruise control with a lead of 5up with six to play and looked certain to secure the championship before nerves kicked in and Dawson claimed two holes back.
It took until the 16th where he made a clinical save from the sand to win The 123rd Amateur Championship and etch his name in history.
“It’s unreal. It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but its an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different.
“I’m shattered. It’s been a long week and especially today. I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me.
“Winning golf tournaments is what all of us dream of and being able to stand here having a trophy on the side – it’s just what we play and work for. I am thankful to be standing here right now.
“I have got to thank all my mates that came. Kyle McClatchie one of my very good friends that turned pro a month ago, played a tournament in Scotland about two hours away (SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge) and he drove through this morning. To see him on the first tee box was unbelievable. I appreciate that and it means a lot to me.
“I had my friend Matt on the bag and he has been unbelievable for me this week. He’s been the foundation to me, keeping me calm, and we just have an awesome time out there. It’s just so much fun.
“Royal Aberdeen has been awesome. I just want to convey all my thanks on behalf of all the players for everything they have done for us this week. They gave us an awesome tournament vibe. The moment you walk into the front door you just feel welcome.
On playing in The 147th Open at Carnoustie - “Growing up in South Africa The Open Championship is the major that you want to win. To go out and win The Open Championship – well I’ll definitely give it my best shot! I’m so looking forward to that and everything that comes with this victory.
“I’ve never played Carnoustie. I’ve just heard about how brutal it is! I am looking forward to it. I am just going to go out and enjoy the experience.
On being the first South African winner of The Amateur Championship since 1966 - “It’s indescribable. This golf tournament is a difficult one to win. Being able to etch my name into history is an unbelievable feeling. I’m obviously very chuffed about what happened this week. It’s been good.”
“I am pretty happy. If you offered me finishing second at the start of the week I would have definitely taken it but then again when you get so close it’s frustrating so I have a lot of mixed emotions.
“I’ve some nice tournaments coming up so that’s what I’ll go away and try to focus on.
“I wasn’t really clawing my way back into it in the end, Jovan was giving holes away. But to be fair to him, it was a great up and down on the 16th to win it. He’s definitely a very worthy winner this week.”
The 124th Amateur Championship will be played at Portmarnock and The Island from 17 to 22 June, 2019.