Hilton pupil shines

2017-02-22 11:52
Hilton College pupil Chris Woollam has made both his school and family proud with his incredible showing at the SA Amateur Championships held at the Humewood Golf Course on Sunday and Monday this week.

Hilton College pupil Chris Woollam has made both his school and family proud with his incredible showing at the SA Amateur Championships held at the Humewood Golf Course on Sunday and Monday this week. ( Michael Sheehan)

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At the recent Sanlam South African Amateur Championship held in Port Elizabeth, Hilton College pupil Chris Woollam continued his superb run of form, when he finally broke through and earned his first major tournament win, smashing the 36-hole stroke play qualifier at the Humewood Golf Course early this week.  

The 17-year-old finished in first place in the competition at 15 under par and had a final score of 129, after convincingly thumping reigning English amateur champion Dan Brown in a sudden-death playoff on Monday.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, the overwhelmed youngster, who had just returned home from the event, said his victory came as a shock.

“I am feeling overwhelmed and grateful for this special victory. It’s my first big win after playing for many years and the taste of victory is very sweet,’’ he said.
Chris carded a 64, with his opponent, Brown, firing a 63 in the final round to tie for the lead at 15-under-par 129 at the end of regulation play. 

It took four extra trips down the par four 18th before the Pietermaritzburg schoolboy broke the deadlock and lifted the Proudfoot Trophy.

In expressing his excitement, the Grade 12 pupil also paid tribute to his Midlands school for their continued support.

“I would like to pay tribute to Hilton College who have been very supportive of my golf whilst also fitting into a busy school day. 

“Being at boarding school means I can focus on my studies and my golf with few other distractions. We have a wonderful golf practice facility and set-up at Hilton so I can practice every day with my team-mates.

“Matric is an important year for me and I want to get a good result at the end of the year so I can continue my studies. 

“Whilst I have some tournaments this term, from next term I will be focusing more on my matric studies,’’ he told  The Witness.

His father, Dave Woollam, who could not hide his excitement, explained to the paper how the youngster’s journey as a golfer started. 

“He started playing golf at age three and by the age of five he was playing a full round of golf. He started playing competitive golf from about eight years old for SA Kids Golf. 

“We are hugely proud of Chris for this achievement. He has worked very hard at his golf whilst also focusing on his schoolwork and life at Hilton College — I know this is a dream come true for him,” his father said. 

Aged just six, Chris became the youngest person to ever make a hole-in-one in the country, and his proud father, who has been by his side every step of the way, felt privileged to witness his son reap the fruits.

“Chris and I have walked many hundreds of fairways together over the last 10 years of this journey. There have been many ups and downs, but they were always special and we made sure we had fun. 

“This was the highlight of that special journey so far and I am overjoyed for him,” he added.

When he was just between 11 and 13 years old, Chris represented the country in two European Junior Champs and two World Junior Champs in Scotland and the U.S. respectively. 

His best international finish was 12th in the 2013 Junior World Champs.

In 2015, he secured a place in the South African High Schools team, which saw the youngster bag a third place at the SA U17 Champs last year.

Asked whether he wishes to pursue the sport when he completes his studies, Woollam said he was planning on taking a gap year next year to focus on getting a scholarship in the United States where he can continue to play golf for as long as he possibly can. 

“I would like to go on and compete in golf at the highest level but also want to study at university for a finance degree. 

“I might take a gap year next year and may also try and get a scholarship to study and play golf in the U.S. — the most competitive golf breeding ground in the world,’’ he concluded.

36-HOLE STROKE PLAY QUALIFIER RESULTS
129 - Chris Woollam 65 64 (play-off, fourth hole)
129 - Dan Brown (GBR) 66 63
131 - Slade Pickering 63 68
132 - Craig Ross (SCO) 69 63; Brandon Cloete 68 64
133 - Andre Nel 67 66
134 - Jade Buitendag 68 66; Anthoine Auboin (FRA) 65 69
135 - Andre van Heerden 70 65; Calum Fyfe (SCO) 68 67
136 - Craig Howie (SCO) 71 65; Marco Steyn 70 66; Jeremy Freiburghaus (SUI) 69 67; Mitchell Waite (GBR) 69 67; Malcolm Mitchell 67 69
137 - James Walker GBR 68 69; Dimitri Mary (FRA) 67 70; Joseph Long GBR 66 71; Pierre Pineau (FRA) 64 73
138 - Quintin Wilsnach 72 66; Theunie Bezuidenhout 71 67; Hans-Jurie Human 70 68; Therion Nel 68 70; Garrick Higgo 68 70; Claudio Consul (GER) 68 70

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