SA juniors ready to conquer Italy
Four of South Africa’s top junior golfers are ready to take on Europe’s top amateurs at the sixth Italian International Under-16 Championship at Golf Club Biella at the end of August.
The South African Golf Union (SAGA) selected the country’s top two juniors, Thriston Lawrence from Mpumalanga and Tristen Strydom from Gauteng North, as well as Ekurhuleni’s Jason Froneman and David Meyers from Central Gauteng to fly the country’s flag at the 72-hole international stroke play championship from 28- 30 August.
“The Italian International Under-16 Championship counts towards the R&A World Amateur Rankings and draws the top amateurs from nearly 20 countries,” said SAGA president, Colin Burger.
“South Africa has participated in the championship since its inception in 2007 and we have enjoyed some great results in Italy in the past. Our juniors certainly impressed last year.
“Tristen Strydom shared second place, Dylan Raubenheimer tied for fourth and Ian Snyman posted a top 20 finish. Our team also did very well in the 36-hole Nation’s Trophy team event, which is played during the first two rounds of the championship, and finished third, behind winners Italy and second-placed Denmark.
“We have selected four form players and we expect them to perform well for South Africa.”
While SA Boys Match Play champion Lawrence and SA Boys Stroke Play champion Strydom are ranked first and second respectively on current SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play Order of Merit, Froneman and Meyers rank fourth and eighth respectively on the SA Boys U-17 rankings.
Lawrence also posted top five finishes in three National Order of Merit events this year. After a tie for third at Somerset West, he lost in a play-off to Froneman at Kempton Park Golf Club, but recently won at Beachwood. The 15-year-old is confident that the squad will do well in Italy.
“We will be going up against some of the top golfers from Europe, but we have a pretty strong team,” said Lawrence. “We have all scored individual and team victories this year and we are all very excited to tee it up in Italy.
“To play in this championship is a wonderful opportunity for us as individuals but as a team, we will also be representing South African junior golf. We are looking forward to the challenge and we are definitely going to do our best to bring the trophies home.”
Known locally as “La Betulle”, the Golf Club Biella in the Valcarozza region is a highly respected venue. The 6 497 metre championship layout that winds through dense woods of century old birches and beeches, with strategically placed bunkers, rocky outcrops and water hazards, will provide a stern test for the South Africans.
Strydom, who recently shot a six-under-par to post the lowest score recorded in this year’s Glacier Junior Series, said the par-73 course demands accuracy and focus.
“The course is one of the top courses in Europe and the layout is very challenging,” said Strydom. “It’s a parklands course and anything drifting left or right off the tee will land you in trouble. The greens are small and there are many doglegs, but if your game is on song, you can post a good score.”
Last year’s tournament drew 132 top junior golfers from 18 countries including hosts Italy, South Africa, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Norway, Great Britain, France, Finland, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovenia, Ireland, Slovakia and Turkey.
Second Vice President of the SAGA, Gerhard Conradie, who will accompany the team, said the tournament is a great opportunity for the juniors to gain experience.
“We welcome any opportunity for our juniors to challenge on international level,” Conradie said. “Competitive experience is crucial for development and the chance to go up against the best juniors in Europe will give be an invaluable experience for them. We look forward to seeing how they measure up against the top players from Europe.”