Ernie Els bests nephew, Louis Oosthuizen leads at South African Open


Auburn junior Jovan Rebula didn’t get the better of uncle Ernie Els in the third round of the $1.2 million South African Open, but the experience of playing competitively with the four-time major champion for the first time will live with him forever.

Rebula and Els made it a family affair at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg. Tied 15th on 5 under after 36 holes, they went out at 8:20 a.m. in the company of Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre. Els managed to beat his nephew, but British Amateur champion Rebula put up a good fight.

Els returned a 3-under 68 to Rebula’s 70. The five-time South African Open champion sits in joint fifth place on 8 under, six shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen. Rebula is tied 22nd on 6 under.

“A special day,” Els said. “We took some pictures on the first tee from our phones to get it on record.

“I think as time goes on, we will reflect on this day. I know I will know that this is pretty special. He is a youngster so it might not settle in yet with him, but knowing the kid since he was in nappies and now playing the South African Open is special.

“It was great to see my sister out there, and Dragan (brother-in-law) caddying for Jovan. As parents they must be so proud and, as an uncle, I’m just as proud.

“I’m happy he’s good enough. I hope he breaks every record I have. I only have love for Jovan and I just wish him all the best.”

Rebula’s only regret was that the round did not last longer.

“This must be one of the quickest rounds of golf I’ve ever played,” Rebula said. “I wish it could have carried on the whole day.

“It was a dream to be able to play with my uncle one day. It doesn’t matter where it is but especially the South African Open, it’s an honor and I really enjoyed it out there.

“My uncle is one of my role models and it’s not necessarily just on the golf course, he’s just such a special person. He’s always caring for other people around him, and that’s what I look up to more than the golf itself.

“But with my uncle’s records, it’s something really special and I would probably have to work really hard to achieve what he has.”

Rebula has one more year at Auburn before he can concentrate on emulating his famous uncle. His goal heading into the final round is finishing low amateur to win the Freddie Tait Trophy. He has a three-shot lead over Deon Germishuys in that battle.

Oosthuizen leads by three over Charl Schwartzel, Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya and England’s Matt Wallace as he chases his first South African Open victory.

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