Filippi in touch at Junior Open Championship

South Africa’s Luca Filippi finished just within striking distance of first round pacesetter, Hugo Townsend from Sweden, in the opening round of Junior Open Championship at the West Lancashire Golf Club in England.

Filippi from the Western Province carded a two-over-par 74 for a share of fourth in the prestigious biennial championship, presented by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A).

Compatriot Kaleigh Telfer from Gauteng tied for 35th on nine over 81

Townsend, the son of former European Team Ryder Cup player Peter Townsend, reeled in five birdies in his first five holes and was the only player to finish the first round in red figures.

Filippi from Milnerton Golf Club in the Western Cape also used his proficiency with the quirks of links golf to put together a solid opening performance.

He overcame a bogey start with an eagle at the par-five second, however, back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth saw him turn in one over.

A further drop at the 12th and double bogey at the par-four 15th pushed him four shots over par, but the 15-year-old Province junior rallied with a pair of birdies at the closing holes to finish just two off the pace.

Meanwhile Telfer grappled with the narrow fairways and punishing rough of the traditional links layout in the cold conditions and the odd drizzle just added to her frustration.

She birdied the par-five fifth but three double bogeys from seven to nine ruined her early advantage.

The Bryanston golfer managed to shave a shot off her deficit with a birdie at the 11th, but another run of bogeys from the 13th to the 16th, including a double drop at the 15th, saw her complete the back nine 40 strokes.

The biennial Junior Open was first played in 1994 and has been under the R&A’s administrative umbrella since 2000. All national golf organisations affiliated to The R&A are invited to send one boy and/or girl under the age of 16 to compete in the 54-hole stroke play event.

Only the top 80 and ties will compete in the final round.

This year’s championship drew a field of 126 players from 75 countries, including 21 players from Africa.

The experience for juniors includes not only the golf tournament, but an opportunity for competitors to meet their counterparts from many different golfing nations.

Traditionally the Junior Open is played in the same week in July as the Open Championship and at a nearby course. All competitors are invited to attend The Open after the conclusion of their own event.

Previous champions of the Junior Open Championship include Sergio Garcia, who won the first event in 1994, Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts, Camilo Villegas, Paula Creamer and Jordan Spieth.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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