Juniors named for 2023 Reply Italian U-16 challenge

GolfRSA National Squad quartet Bryan Newman, Johndre Ludick, Roelof Craig and Ben Weber will fly the flag for GolfRSA in the 16th Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship in Italy; credit GolfRSA.

13 July 2023 – Reigning Nedbank Junior Challenge champion Bryan Newman, Roelof Craig, Johndre Ludick and Ben Weber will fly the flag for South Africa when the Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship tees off in Italy in August.

The GolfRSA National Squad quartet will join a world-class field in the 16th edition of this popular junior championship, hosted at the Biella Golf Club Le Betulle from 29-31 August.

“We have been sending juniors to compete in the Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship since its second year. This event has become a highly regarded junior championship on the international calendar and with up to 20 countries competing each year, it attracts top juniors from a multitude of countries,” said GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn.

“This presents us with a fantastic opportunity to give our juniors the chance to test themselves against top international competition and gain invaluable international experience. We are delighted that we are once again able to send four of our rising young talents to the 16th edition.”

The South African quartet will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Haydn Porteous, Martin Vorster and Amilkar Bhana and bring home a fourth title for South Africa. Porteous won the Theodore Soldati Trophy in 2008, while GolfRSA National Squad members Vorster and Bhana were crowned the champions in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

North West junior Newman, who ranks first on the GolfRSA National U-17 standings, has enjoyed two victories this season – in the Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal at Selborne Golf Estate in January and at the Gary Player Country Club in May.

Craig, from Gauteng North, rocketed to second in the rankings courtesy of three top-fives in the national junior events this season, while Eastern Province’s Ludick moved to sixth in the rankings this July after finishing runner-up in the Nomads SA Boys U-17 Championship and fifth in the Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal at St Francis Links.

Weber, from Border, won the Nomads SA U-15 Championship at the start of the season and currently leads the GolfRSA Under-15 Rankings. The 13-year-old was impressive in the Nomads National Order of Merit Inland event this July, where he held his own in very tough weather conditions at Irene Country Club to finish second.

“Johndre competed in Italy last year, but it will be the first time our 2023 National Squad inductees Bryan, Roelof and Ben will represent GolfRSA on the international stage,” Hepburn said.

“All four players have enjoyed a strong season to date on our national junior circuit and have also excelled at provincial and club level. They are deserving of this opportunity to represent GolfRSA on the international stage.

“The Biella Golf Club Le Betulle always presents a fantastic challenge. The course places a premium on accuracy and positioning and will really test their course management and ability to strategise. We are excited to give them this opportunity to test themselves a strong field at a top-rated European golf course.”

The team will be managed by South African Golf Association President Henk Smith, while sport psychologist Theo Bezuidenhout will once again travel with the group to provide mental guidance.