Conner Mackenzie’s brilliant, runaway win in the Club Championships last weekend means he has now made a clean sweep of all the major Randpark club titles.
As a teenager, he was Junior Champion, and last year he added the Graduate and Top 16 Match Play titles to his CV. Now he has for the first time lifted the really big one – and he did it in style, with a three-under-par 69 on Bushwillow followed by a one-under 71 on Firethorn. That gave him an impressive 36-hole aggregate of 140, a full eight shots ahead of the runner-up, the never-say-die veteran that is Schalk Naude.
“I was really pleased with that 69 on Bushwillow on Saturday because it was cold, wet and windy. Conditions weren’t easy but I feel I really played well,” Conner says. “I went into Sunday with a five-shot lead and it was just a case of keeping it together after that.”
The key moments for you over the two days? “You know, it was probably my lag putts. I had quite a few long putts in the 15 to 20-metre range and every time I’d lag the first putt up really close to the hole meaning I’d just have a tap-in. I only three-putted once over the weekend. And, as an aside, I must say something about the golf courses. Condition-wise, Bushwillow is simply brilliant and Firethorn, after all the troubles we had with the greens late last year and all the rain we’ve had this year … well, it’s coming on really nicely. So congrats to the greens staff.”
Conner revealed after winning last year’s Graduate Championships that he was passionate about rugby at school. A talented kicker, he excelled at flyhalf and was vice-captain of De La Salle’s first XV. He even went for trials with the Golden Lions but then decided to start chasing a little white ball rather than a much larger oval one.
After school, he studied hard at Tuks and graduated top of his class with an honours degree in environmental science. In between making birdies, he was coaching cricket and rugby at Trinityhouse and loving it. Now he is employed as a financial adviser and enjoying the challenge.
He’s also been working hard on his golf this year and has started competing on the IGT Tour, and in two starts has earned two top 10s. “So I’m thinking to myself that at 25 I’m still young, and I feel I’m playing really good golf. So the goal is to turn pro at the end of the year. I’m saying to myself: ‘Why not give it a go?’. The top 12 on the IGT Order of Merit get their Sunshine Tour cards. So it would be great if I could make the top 12 and earn my card and that’s the aim right now.”
Finally, just a word about Schalk Naude. He’s 64 and – like Bernhard Langer – he just keeps hitting fairways and greens and rolling the putts in. So, from the club, well done Conner and well done Schalk!
Written by Randpark Club member Grant Winter.