Amateurs get chance to sample a golfing Pearl

South Africa’s top amateurs will tee it up in next week’s South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Pearl Valley Golf Estates, with several players set to make a strong challenge for the title against a selection of international stars.Johan du Buisson, who finished third at the 2006 SA Amateur, comes into this year’s championship having just beaten a field of 60 of South Africa’s leading amateurs in the Princes Grant Amateur Open.Du Buisson has the added advantage of having played in December’s South African Airways Open at Pearl Valley, where despite missing the cut he still finished as the highest amateur in the field. In fact, he beat defending champion Ernie Els on day one with a 74.

“I’m driving the ball pretty well, which will be important in the winds at Pearl Valley,” said Du Buisson, who is ranked fifth in the country.

Du Buisson has represented South Africa on several occasions, but says an individual accolade is what he is after.

“It would be a dream come true to win the stroke play,” he said. “Winning this tournament opens up so many doors.”

Ruan Botha, the country’s number one amateur with eight top-ten finishes last year, is an obvious favourite. But he doesn’t have particularly fond memories of his last trip to Pearl Valley. He signed for a 90 in the first round of the SAA Open, but recovered much of his lost pride with a 78 in Friday’s second round.

“I struggled a bit at the SAA Open but I have learnt a lot from that experience. With a bit more knowledge of the course I’m sure I’m going to do much better this time around. I’m just going to take it shot for shot and see what happens.”

This year the stroke play will have some international flavour with players from both the United Kingdom and France taking part. Joe Bland, who is attached to the Walsall Golf Club, spent a few months in Stellenbosch as a golf apprentice, while countryman Chris Corry is also in the field.

The French contingent includes Edouard du Bois from Golf de Bordeaux, and the St Nom La Breteche Golf Club’s Victor Dubuisson and Benjamin Herbert.

Du Bois and Dubuisson are both ranked in the top 100 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Neale Kunhardt, president of the South African Golf Association, said it was a pleasure to welcome top local and international amateurs to Pearl Valley.“It’s tremendous for us to be able to bring top amateurs to a world-class golf course such as Pearl Valley Golf Estates. The facilities and the high standard of the golf course make it a perfect host for the country’s top amateur tournament.

“It will also be a good test for these amateurs, with Pearl Valley Golf Estates hosting our South African Open Championship as recently as December, and which tested the games of some of the world’s top professionals.”

Posted in