Steve Williams: veteran playing like a youngster

By Grant Winter

Steven Williams
PHOTO: Dale Boyce.

Just two days after upstaging South Africa’s top senior professionals in the SA Senior Open at Blue Valley, veteran amateur golfer headed for Zwartkop Country Club and won the Otway Hayes Senior Classic too.

“I didn’t even have a practice round, and I hadn’t played Zwartkop for a long time. The rhythm wasn’t as good as it was at Blue Valley and I missed a couple of short putts, not knowing the greens,” said the 54-year-old from Modderfontein who shot 72-73 to join Wingate Park’s Adrian Kriel (69-76) at the top of the leaderboard on 145.

It was sudden death from that point on and after the two players had halved the first three holes (No 1, No 8 and No 9), Williams sealed victory with a birdie on their second trip down the par-5 1st hole after hitting the green in two and two-putting.

Williams has done remarkably well as the years have rolled by and gained full Protea colours for golf at the grand old age of 48. He has been the country’s No 1 mid-amateur (a mid-amateur being 35 and over although this will change to 30 and over) and this year was part of the SA Mid-Amateur team that beat France in France, impressively winning all his games.

So how does he manage to beat players nearly 20 younger than him?

“You need to be enthusiastic, you need to be competitive and you need to train hard in the gym as you get older so as to keep up with the younger guys”, he says. “Last year I tore a ligament in my ring finger and it kept me out of golf for six or seven months. Even now I still have to warm it up,”

Kriel, for his part, chipped in for both an eagle and a birdie in his 69 and had a chance to win in the play-off but missed a birdie attempt.

He’s playing good golf, though, and feels privileged to be part of, as he puts it, “an amazing bunch of people” playing senior amateur golf.

“I’m 61 and retired and loving it, and my ‘office’ now is the pub at Wingate Park,” the 61-year-old says with a chuckle.

Benoni Lake’s Grant Gardiner and Johan Coetzer (Rustenburg GC) tied for third on 146 at Zwartkop, just one off the pace, with Jock Wellington, Robin Ashby from the host club and Morgan Phillips (Martizburg GC) next best on 148.