Kang hits top 10 at Duke of York

South African juniors Ji Sun Kang and Zander Gous survived a very cold and windy day at Royal St George’s in Sandwich and were delighted to finish within striking distance of the first round leader at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy in England on Tuesday.

Guido Migliozzi from Italy set the early clubhouse target at three-over-par 73 and held on for a one stroke lead from Norway’s Kristian Johanessen.

Reigning Nomads SA Girls Champion Kang braved the gusting winds to shoot a 76 and tie for ninth with Vince van Veen from the Netherlands and Sweden’s Gustav Held, while Nomads SA Boys U-19 champion Gous went around the challenging links layout in 78 strokes to claim a share of 19th alongside Kazigu Higa from Japan, the Czech Republic’s Vitek Novak and Aron Juliusson from Iceland.

Royal St George’s is no stranger to hosting high profile events, having staged the Open Championship 14 times, including 2011 when Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug.

The South Africans found out exactly why the course is considered one of the toughest on the Open rotation.

Korean-born Kang was two over after nine and parred the first three holes after the turn, but as the wind intensified and rain added to the already tough conditions, the 17-year-old dropped four more shots down the homestretch.

“I walked off feeling like I just played 36 holes, not 18,” said the Western Province junior.

“Playing out of Atlantic Beach, I’m pretty used to playing in the wind on an open links layout, but this wind was absolutely brutal. It made finding the already tricky pin position even tougher and it was a real mental and physical grind out there.”

Meanwhile Mpumalanga Gous was equally dumbfounded.

“I don’t know when last I signed a card without a birdie,” the 17-year-old from Piet Retief.

“The conditions were really tough, but you just had to keep your head down and get on with it. I played with two girls and I just couldn’t believe that none of us could pick up a birdie. I guess it’s true what the professionals always say when they play The Open; at courses like these, pars are gold.”

The 2013 Duke of York Young Champions Trophy attracted a stellar field of 55 players from 30 countries.

Only a handful of field earned their entry into the exclusive 54-hole stroke play event by winning a major golfing event in 2012, while Kang and Gous, like the bulk of the players in the line-up, made the grade by way of winning their respective national championships.

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