Italian recipe dishes up Lowveld feast for Boshoff

Four weeks ago, Paul Boshoff put on a brave face after he failed to make the top eight at the Italian International Amateur Championship, but this week, the 16-year-old Ekurhuleni golfer is wearing a smile a mile wide.

The youngster finally pushed the loss aside, put his Italian experience into practice and walked off the White River Golf Club course the Lowveld Amateur Open champion.

Boshoff carded an opening 69 at the par-71 layout and propelled himself to his first provincial podium finish with a flawless 65 in the second round. The Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate golfer finished four shots clear of Stephan Potgieter and seven ahead of Justice Mashego on a winning total of eight-under-par 134.

After seven birdies offset by five bogeys in the first round, his bogey-free ride in the second round was courtesy of his week in Italy, where he finally understood a lesson his dad, Louis, had been trying to teach him for years.

“My dad is always telling me to play the course, not the player, but nine times out of 10 someone like Haydn Porteous or Zander Lombard would be in the field,” Boshoff explained.

“Haydn and Zander are the top two amateurs in the country. You really want to beat them, so you forget about the course and you start playing the player.

“I didn’t know anyone in Italy, except my friend and practice partner, Tristen Strydom. I didn’t think about the other players. I played the course and that’s why I finished in the top 20 and made the match play at an international tournament. I did the same at White River and it paid off.”

Boshoff shot rounds of 75 and 69 at the tough Villa D’Este Golf Club layout in Italy to finish 14th in the Stroke Play Qualifier, and claimed a 2-up victory in the first round of the match play.

“I lost focus in the second round and I got beaten 2&1 by a local player,” he said. “When we started the second round at White River, I just forgot about everyone else in the field. I just played the course and I didn’t even realise I had pulled four shots clear of the field until the end.”

For Boshoff, the victory cemented the lesson he learned in Italy and, when he tees it up with Strydom and 82 other hopeful junior golfers at the US Junior Amateur Champions Qualifier on Monday, 10 June, the course at the US Naval Academy Golf Club in Annapolis, Maryland will be the priority.

The two youngsters, who leave for the United States on Thursday, will play for three spots on offer.

Strydom has competed internationally before and represented South Africa at the All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge in Mauritius in April, yet Boshoff is not intimidated by the prospect of playing against some of the top amateurs in the world.

He has been spending time with Tuksgolf Club and Academies head coach and technical director Llewellyn van Leeuwen, who also looks after the South African Golf Association’s national teams, and he is excited about the challenge ahead.

“I’ve had a see-saw season, with top 10s at the Gauteng North Open and the Eastern Cape / Border Stroke Play and some less impressive finishes and missed cuts in the other events,” Boshoff said.

“But straight after missing the cut at the KZN Amateur, I bounced back with a win at the Lowveld Amateur. That’s why I feel ready for what lies ahead.

“We have been fine tuning my game and I feel good about my form. I’m not going to worry about the guys I’m playing against. I need to get stuck in and get to know the course, so there are no surprises in the qualifier.”

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