Jovan Rebula pointed to the help he gets from his major champion uncle to deal with “big-time moments” as he fired himself into the matchplay stage of the Amateur Championship.
The 21-year-old South African shot level-par 71 at Royal Aberdeen yesterday to give himself a strokeplay total of three-over par. He scored 73 at Murcar Links on Monday.
Rebula’s uncle is Ernie Els – the Open champion in 2002 and 2012, and two-time US Open winner.
The Auburn University student, who is relatively close to Els’ Palm Beach, Florida, home when at college in Alabama, said: “He’s always a helping hand when it comes to big-time moments. He’s an easy guy to talk to and has done a lot for me in my career.
“I’m thankful for him – we’ve got a very good relationship and it’s always special to have a close bond with someone who’s been in way bigger moments than this.”
After going four-under on the front nine, bogeys at nine, 13, 15 and 18 took a bit of the shine off Rebula’s card.
However, his only aim for the first two days was to get himself through to the head to head contest, which was due to start today with the top 64 strokeplay players, including ties.
Rebula, through for the first time at his third Amateur, said: “I’m a big matchplay fan, it’s completely different to stroke-play and anything can happen.
“It’s one on one and it’s just you (the two players) and the golf course.
“Growing up in South Africa we play a bunch of matchplay events. We’ve been in a bunch of those situations before.
“Hopefully I’ll bring my A-game and if it goes it goes.”
The matchplay was set to begin with a preliminary round of 13 ties between the worst scoring qualified players to whittle down the field to 64 players for the second round of matchplay, also due to take place today.
Rebula was to begin at the second stage against Rowlands Castle’s Billy McKenzie.
The best scorer in the strokeplay, Wilco Nienaber, also of South Africa, was to play Niclas Weiland of Sweden, while the second-best scorer, Norway’s Viktor Hovland – the fifth-ranked amateur in the world, was to play one of the winner’s from the preliminary round.
Best-placed Scot Euan McIntosh, of Turnhouse, was drawn against Forres’ Jeff Wright in an all-Scottish affair.