Five of SA’s leading amateurs in SA Open
Five of South Africa’s leading amateur golfers are in the field of 156 golfers that start the first round of the South African Open Championship, being played over 72 holes of stroke play, at Pearl Valley Golf Estates outside Paarl tomorrow.
Leon Knoll, JG Claassen, Adrian Ford, Ryan Dreyer and Dylan Frittelli tee up in South Africa’s oldest professional golf championship, which is co sanctioned by the European Tour, Sunshine Tour and South African Golf Association (SAGA).
As the current Glacier SA Amateur Champion, 37 year old Ryan Dreyer, gets the honour of teeing up with defending champion Richard Sterne and Soren Hansen from Denmark. Dreyer, who plays his golf at Killarney Golf Club in Central Gauteng, is no stranger to the professional game. He was a professional for many years, however disillusioned with the game he reapplied for his amateur status. He soon found the competitive spark that has ignited his game. Not only did he then become the SA Amateur champion of 2009, he reached the last 16 in the British Amateur in July and won, with JG Claassen, the International Team Competition played during the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup in Argentina last month. He will be hoping that his new found enthusiasm for the sport will be the medicine, which was missing while playing professional golf, that will elevate up the leaderboard.
Adrian Ford, the 22 year old Durbanville Golf Club member in the Western Province, won the Freddie Tait Trophy last year, which goes to the leading amateur that makes the 36 hole cut. Ford, who turns professional next year, will be hoping to finish higher than his 62nd place finish last year.
“I have been working hard on my game,” said the bearded 2009 Southern Cape Open Champion today, who through an improved diet and exercise regime is looking a lot fitter than the player who played this championship last year.
One of the most exciting players in the amateur ranks is the Orkney golfer, from the North West Province, eighteen year old JG Claassen. He has had a successful 2009 winning the SA Stroke Play and Zimbabwe Amateur Stroke Play Championships in addition to partnering Dreyer in taking the team honours in Argentina. He has won two of the three amateur tournaments he has entered in South Africa. He is a player on the up and is likely to relish the opportunity of playing against a field of top professional golfers.
Leon Knoll, who is currently ranked the top amateur golfer in South Africa, according to the latest SAGA Player Rankings, is on vacation from the University of San Diego, California in the USA. He finished runner up to Jacques Blaauw in 2008, during the SA Stroke Play Championship played Pearl Valley Golf Estates in atrociously windy conditions. Come good or bad weather, the Silver Lakes Country Club amateur from Gauteng North will be hoping for another good performance on the superbly prepared Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.
The final amateur is the nineteen year old Dylan Frittelli. Like Knoll, he too is on a golf scholarship at the University of Texas based in Houston. The former top ranked South African showed good form in August this year when he lost in a playoff for the Barrett Amateur Championship, played in Canada. The Irene Country Club golfer from Gauteng North failed to make the cut in last year’s South African Open Championship, something he will be looking to remedy in the next two days.
The first players tee off from 06h30 tomorrow morning. There will be a cut to the leading 65 players and ties at the end of the second round. The final round will be played on Sunday.