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Todd Clements during the third round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January.
By Kent Gray
Todd Clements has waltzed through the final stage of Sunshine Tour Q-School in South Africa but won’t be relinquishing his amateur status immediately.
The MENA Tour’s runaway 2017 amateur order of merit champion finished second of the 108 starters at Randpark G.C. in Johannesburg, a second round eight-under 64 highlighting the brilliant performance in the 90-hole marathon.
However, the 21-year-old still has amateur ambitions, chief among them being selected to represent England at the Eisenhower Trophy in Ireland this September. The world amateur teams championship will be played at Carton House near Dublin from Sept. 5-8 and would be a fitting sign-off to a stellar amateur career which included victory in the 87th English Amateur Championship at The Berkshire last August.
There is a chance he could cut the amateur umbilical cord in August if he were to miss Eisenhower selection although that appears unlikely barring a massive loss of form. At 18th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR, a spot behind Dubai prodigy Rayhan Thomas), Clements is the highest ranked Englishman and is set to be named in a four-man team for next month’s European Nations Cup in Spain in what is a precursor to Eisenhower selection.
Whenever he turns professional, the Londoner will have options as he eyes the ultimate goal of a 2019 European Tour card. He can take up the Sunshine Tour card at any stage this season and is also likely to play the remodelled MENA Tour which has been shortened to an August-November season with expanded 72 hole (from 54) events offering more prize money and Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
Clements opted to play in Joburg for the experience of cut-throat Q-School pressure looking ahead to the European Tour qualifiers, the first stage of which he will automatically skip if he can get his WAGR inside the top 15. He handled the Randpark test with aplomb too, rounds of 67-64-68 and “bad day at the office, it happens” 74 taking him into the final round with a share of the lead. He had led by as many as seven strokes at one stage during the week only for a self diagnosed intercostal muscle strain (rib area) picked up on the range ahead of Friday’s final round seeing him blow out to a closing 75 and second place at -12. He finish four shots behind South African professional Thriston Lawrence (closing 65) and a shot ahead of fellow amateur Louis Albertse (RSA).
“I actually picked up a slight injury in the morning so to go through the pain barrier and get finished and finish second overall was quite a delight actually,” Clements told GolfDigestme.com
“The whole experience exceeded my expectations in all honesty. I went to further my experience in the golfing world so to be able to compete straight away was a delight really. That was the goal, to give myself options when I do turn professional and now I’ve got those options.”
Clements finished leading amateur in seven of the nine events he entered during last season’s MENA Tour including the last six events of the year on the trot. There were runner-up finishes at the Dubai Creek Open (T-2 with Thomas) and Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open as he finished 110 points ahead of compatriot Sam Hobday despite playing six fewer events.
The developmental Middle East and North Africa circuit is meant as a finishing school for aspiring pros and is certainly proving its worth in Clements’ case. The Colchester lad seems at ease with his game after one of the most mentally challenging examinations.
“It’s a longer tournament so your concentration levels have to be a bit higher but I actually found it very similar to any other events which is great,” Clements said of Sunshine Tour Q-School.
“When it comes down to it, you are just playing golf every day whether you’re playing for a living, the Eisenhower, the Nations Cup or European Tour Q-School, you just try and play golf. That was actually quite reassuring that there isn’t much of a difference and if you get that kind of mind set, you can definitely compete.”
Clements intends having the rib injury checked upon his return to London on Monday. He puts it down to overuse after a hectic schedule which included representing Europe in the Bonallack Trophy in Doha a fortnight ago. “Hopefully it’s not too serious,” he said.
— Sunshine Tour (@Sunshine_Tour) March 24, 2018