Schietekat flirts with SA Open lead in Paarl

2007-12-14 00:00

Neil Schietekat will be well-remembered for his stellar years at Maritzburg Golf Club, but yesterday the 23-year-old found himself in elevated company as he flirted with the lead in the South African Open.

Schietekat signed for a level-par 72 at Pearl Valley near Paarl on a day, when a steadily increasing wind took a toll on the golfers and several marquee names were contemplating missing the cut.

Schietekat teed off in the afternoon when the wind was pumping at around 40 km/h, and he found himself in a share of Englishman Robert Rock’s two-under-par lead when he birdied his first

two holes, the par-four 10th and 11th.

At the end of a mentally and physically sapping 18 holes, Schietekat had gone round in 72 strokes, two off the lead and with only fellow South Africans Charl Schwartzel, Ulrich van den Berg and Alex Haindl between him and Rock.

After developing scoliosis in standard nine, Schietekat, a talented cricket and rugby player at Maritzburg College, turned his attention to golf and represented Natal at U18, U23 and senior level.

He left to further his golfing career in Johannesburg four years ago and has found a happy home at the World of Golf, which has prepared him for the routine of professional golf.

“I signed up for the Gary Player School of Champions at the World of Golf and that’s where I met my coach, Neville Sundelson.

“He got me into the routine of waking up at 8 am … I have structure there and he can watch me there all the time,” Schietekat said.

“When you’re playing on tour, you can go a whole month without knowing what your mistakes are,” he added.

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