Ireland’s Robin Dawson was defeated 3&2 by 20-year-old Jovan Rebula to claim The 123rd Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen at the weekend.
Rebula, nephew of two-time British Open Golf Champion Ernie Els, secured a place in The 147th British Open at Carnoustie, next year’s US Open at Pebble Beach and, by tradition, an invitation to the Masters Tournament in 2019, when he became the first South African to lift the historic trophy since Bobby Cole at Carnoustie in 1966.
Ranked 192 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking Rebula, who was never behind in the 36-hole final, took command of the final early on striking the first blow to go 1up with a birdie at the par-5 6th hole. The South African then took advantage when Dawson bogeyed the 7th and 8th to go 3up. However, the Irishman pulled one back immediately with a birdie of his own to cut Rebula’s lead to 2 holes at the turn.
The match was extremely close at that point and Dawson, who won the Irish Open Amateur Championship at Royal County Down in May, closed the gap further when Rebula conceded the 13th hole. With Rebula at 1up, the finalists headed into the break with everything to play for.
After fighting his way to 3up in the early stages of the afternoon, Rebula stamped his authority on the match by winning the 26th and 27th holes, which included an incredible 25-foot putt for birdie.
Rebula was in cruise control with a lead of 5up with six to play and looked certain to secure the championship before nerves kicked in and Dawson claimed two holes back.
It took until the 16th where he made a clinical save from the sand to claim The 123rd Amateur Championship.
“It’s unreal,” said Rebula, “It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but it’s an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different.”
Despite his obvious disappointment at being beaten, runner-up and silver medallist Robin Dawson was positive about his week’s work in Scotland:
“I am pretty happy. If you offered me finishing second at the start of the week I would have definitely taken it but then again when you get so close it’s frustrating so I have a lot of mixed emotions. I wasn’t really clawing my way back into it in the end, Jovan was giving holes away. But to be fair to him, it was a great up and down on the 16th to win it. He’s definitely a very worthy winner this week.”
Not the result I wanted yesterday but as always a very enjoyable week at The Amateur Championship. Congrats to @JovanRebula on the fantastic win, it was a great match out there, big thanks to the @GUIGolf @RandA for the week ☘ pic.twitter.com/GwtHnjQO3P
— Robin Dawson (@dawson_robin) 24 Meitheamh 2018
The 124th Amateur Championship will be played in Ireland next year, at Portmarnock and The Island from 17-22 June 2019.