Van Niekerk takes home first IJGT Title

ijgt_matt_ravenwoodVICTOR, N.Y. – The International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT ) played host to the AB Golf Designs Junior at the beautiful Ravenwood Golf Club  in Victor, N.Y. 46 elite junior golfers representing five states competed for national recognition and IJGT Merit Points. Players and spectators were greeted with sunny skies and warm weather during this two day, 36-hole tournament.

The Boys 15-19 Division came down to the back nine, where Matthew Van Niekerk  of Rochester, N.Y., took home the title. Van Niekerk had a solid first round carding a 6-over-par 78, but found himself trailing first-round leader Alec Miller  of Pittsford, N.Y., by four strokes.

“I missed a lot of putts in the first round,” said Van Niekerk. “I just took it easy when I got home, and told myself I have nothing to lose in the second round.”

Van Niekerk started his second round off strong,with two birdies and a spectacular eagle on the par-5 sixth hole carding a front-nine 4-under-par 32. He found himself tied with Miller at the turn, which made for an exciting finish on the back nine. Van Niekerk shot even-par on the back nine putting him in the clubhouse at 2-over-par 146. Miller needed to birdie the tough par-5 closing hole at Ravenwood to force a playoff. With the Van Niekerk watching, Miller stuck his approach shot six feet from the hole. Miller’s birdie putt fell just short, giving Van Niekerk his first IJGT Title.

“I have known Alec {Miller} for awhile, and I really wanted him to make that putt,” said Van Niekerk. “It feels really great to finally put a win under my belt, and I am really excited for the future.”

Van Niekerk’s final-round score of 4-under-par 68 earned him Clazic Belts Low Final Round honors.

Finishing second was Miller carding a weekend 3-over-par 147. Rounding out the top three in the Boys 15-19 Division was Ezekiel Zhao  of Annapolis, Md., with a total score of 151.