After turning 50 earlier this year, Duncan Samuel Neill headed down to the Eastern Cape for his first senior amateur tournaments of 2015 – the E Cape event at Port Elizabeth Golf Club, and the EP Senior Open at St Francis Bay.
He finished tied fifth and tied 18th respectively – not bad going for Neil who considered himself a ‘decent’ golfer. He has, after all, played scratch league for Germiston GC for many years, and in his younger days represented the then Eastern Transvaal.
But, as it turned out, he was paired at one stage with experienced senior amateur Steve Cullen on that trip who told him he was a lot better than just a ‘decent’ golfer.
“Believe in yourself, Duncan, and trust your ability because you’ve got plenty of talent,” Cullen said.
Perhaps that was all the encouragement Neill needed because he promptly won the next two events he entered in August – the Northern Cape Senior Open at Kimberley by a whopping eight shots with a pair of 70s, and the Mpumalanga Senior Open at Witbank GC by just one shot this time with a sparkling 68 followed by a level-par 72.
Now the country’s senior amateurs are all wary of this long-hitting “new kid on the block”, this rookie on the over-50s circuit who uses a broomstick putter to telling effect.
“I do drive the ball a long way – 300 metres is about my average tee-shot – which at senior amateur level definitely gives me an advantage as I can hit those par-5s in two,” says Neill. “And I don’t where the length comes from – it’s just there.”
Duncan, whose musical son Dominic came fairly close to winning Idols, has been playing golf for 40 years. He took it up at age 10 alongside his brother when the family were stationed at the Arnot power station – where there is a nine-hole course – between Middelburg and Belfast in Mpumalanga.
For the record, Wingate Park’s Gordon Wessels was second in Kimberley on 148 followed by Ramon Rahme (Glendower), AP Botes (Hartswater) and Frans Smith of the host club on 150. Next best was Johan Swart (Krugersdorp) on 152 and Akasia’s Mellette Hendrikse, the country’s No 1 senior amateur, on 153.
Neill finished just one ahead of Wingate Park’s Adrian Kriel (72-69) in Witbank, with Steve Smit of Middelburg GC sharing third place with Hendrikse on 145. Then came Schalk Naude (Randpark) on 146, and Kevin Monk (Ebotse) and Christie le Roux (Akasia) on 147.