O’Reilly has his day in Knysna

By Lali Stander

Carlo OReilly
PHOTO: Pieter Els

Australian Jason Day and Western Province amateur Carlo O’Reilly may have almost nothing in common, but for both players, Sunday 16 August 2015 will live on as the day that changed their lives.

Just a few hours before Day clinched a start-to-finish victory in the PGA Championship to lift his first Major title, 21-year-old O’Reilly from Atlantic Beach went wire-to-wire in Knysna to break through for his maiden national amateur victory in the Southern Cape Open.

Impressively, O’Reilly shot four successive rounds of 67 at Knysna Golf Club to match Day’s Major record-breaking 20-under-par total at Whistling Straits.

Like Day, O’Reilly’s victory was in no small part due to his resolve to get the job done.

“I’ve been close so many times and you start to wonder if it’s ever going to happen for you,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of great rounds, but there was always the one round that killed my chances.

“My only aim this season has been to put myself in contention with greater consistency and after I took the first round lead, my only goal was to finish in the top five.

“It’s a huge achievement for me to put together four solid rounds; the best reward for all the hard work that’s gone into the last six months with my coach, Paul McKenzie.

“It was unbelievable to finish in double digits after four solid sub-par rounds. What Jason did, was phenomenal, but I have to admit, I felt like a Major winner myself when I sunk the last putt.”

Reigning Nomads SA Boys Under-17 champion Herman Loubser, who closed with a brilliant 64, and Aubrey Buckley, who went one better with a 63, shared second place on 270.

SA Mid-Amateur No 1 Gerlou Roux, Andre Nel and Armandt Scholtz tied for fourth on 276.

“I had a strategy for each hole and I stuck to it,” O’Reilly said of his win. “I just stuck to my routines and one good swing led to another and I made a bunch of birdies by sticking to my guns.

“I have been playing on the IGT Cape Tour in the last few months and I have gained a lot more self-belief. I was nervous the first time I played with someone like Peter Karmis, but after a few events, I don’t fear the Sunshine Tour pros anymore.

This marked the fourth year that the Western Province Government supported the Southern Cape Open and Southern Cape Golf Union Director of Golf Billy Valentyn was pleased with the turnout.

“We are greatly indebted to the Western Province Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport for their ongoing sponsorship of the Southern Cape Open,” Valentyn said.

“The tournament has grown into one of the top annual amateur championships and we were really pleased to see so many of the country’s top amateurs in action at this year’s edition.”