De Lange and Ross impress in Italy

Gauteng North’s Keegan de Lange and Ross Sinclair are both in a strong position after the first round of the seventh Italian International Under-16 Championship in Valcarozza, Italy.

De Lange opened with an even-par 73 for a three-way share of third and lags two shots behind first round leader Kristoffer Reitan from Norway, while Tshwane’s Sinclair navigated the 6,497 meter layout at the Golf Club Biella Le Betulle in 76 strokes to tie for 17th.

De Lange and Sinclair’s combined scores also lifted South Africa to fifth in the Nations Cup standings and the team lag are five shots off the pace from first round leaders Norway.

The remaining South Africans had a tougher day at the office, though.

Ekurhuleni’s Kyle McClatchie opened with a seven-over-par 80 while Jovan Rebula from Southern Cape carded an opening 81.

SAGA Junior, Senior and Development coordinator Eden Thompson said the players all both played solid golf, but McClatchie battled a cold putter and Rebula was left frustrated by his playing partners.

“Keegan boxed a great putt for eagle at the par-five 18th and turned in two-under, but he dropped three shots in succession on his back nine,” Thompson said. “His short game was on song, though, and that saved him a few shots here and there, but he definitely felt that he left a few out there.

“Ross also played very well and could probably have broken par had it not been for a few bogeys on the back nine. He turned level par and dipped to one under with a birdie at the first, but then dropped three shots in a row. He parred the next four holes, but unfortunately bogeyed the ninth to finish at three over.”

Thompson said McClathie and Rebula were obviously disappointed, but he expects them to both come back strong in Wednesday’s second round.

“Jovan’s group was put on the clock early in the round,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately the match was well out of position and therefore, constantly monitored. Although the officials assured us that Jovan was not the slowest player in the group, the situation left him really unsettled and he struggled to keep his focus going.

“Kyle battled a cold putter all day and I have no doubt he would have shaved a few off his score if he could have just gotten that putter to room temperature. Hopefully both players will put the first round behind them and focus on the job at hand today.”

South Africa has been competing in the Italian International Under-16 Championship since it launched in 2007 and has enjoyed some good results in the individual tournament over the last six years.

Yubin Jung finished third and JG Claassens tied for sixth in the inaugural championship, while former SA number one Haydn Porteous won the tournament in 2008, tied for sixth in 2009 and third the following year.

In 2011, Tristen Strydom finished joint second while the South African team tied for third and last year, Jason Froneman also posted a top 20 finish when he tied for 15th.

The Individual Competition is played over 72 holes, while the Nations Trophy team event is decided over the first two rounds of the championship.

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