Kang seals top 20 at Duke of York

Top junior Ji Sun Kang hopes the mental lessons she learned from three days of tough international competition at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy will pay off handsomely at the Pick n Pay SA Women’s Inter-Provincial from 24-27 September.

The Atlantic Beach golfer will line up for Western Province A alongside former Sanlam SA Womens Amateur champion Yvette du Plessis, veteran golfer Vanessa Smith, Amy Henning and top juniors Cara Gorlei and Kelly Erasmus.

Kang will use everything she learned at the prestigious, invitation-only championship in England to help her team change the course of history in the 52nd edition of the prestigious national teams event at Port Elizabeth Golf Club.

“We have a really strong side this year and we are looking forward to this year’s championship,” Kang said. “Gauteng North A has won the Inter-Provincial for the last six years. We are going to put it all on the line to stop their winning march.”

Korean-born Kang and South Africa’s Zander Gous arrived back in the country this weekend after representing South Africa in the Duke of York at Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich as the reigning Nomads SA Girls and SA Boys U-19 champions.

Kang claimed a share of 16th on 28-over-par 228 with three successive rounds of 76, while reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 champion Gous redeemed himself for earlier rounds of 79 and 81 with a final round 73 to tie for 25th on 232.

The 17-year-olds had their first look at the 14-time Open Championship venue in the practice round and knew they were in for a tough challenge, but brutal winds and incessant rain over the first two days rendered the already tough par-70 layout even more challenging.

“We agreed that the rough and the bunkers were definitely the meanest we’ve ever seen,” she said.

“If you missed a fairway even slightly, or caught a fairway bunker, you knew you were looking at bogey or worse. It was really a tough test, but we didn’t realise is just how tough that course could get when the weather conditions worsened.

“We both have renewed respect for the professionals, because they make it look so easy. We both felt it was the toughest test of our careers so far.”

Still, Kang and Gous still revelled in the experience.

“It was a fantastic experience and Zander and I were really proud to represent South Africa against national champions from 31 countries all around the world,” she said. “I mean, I shared a room with Nicole Morales, the American number one. It was great to get to know her better and to play with her in the final round. It was really a privilege to be part of this event.”

Kang was disappointed to slip from the top 10, though.

“I was a great feeling to finish in the top 10 after the first round and I was proud that I held on in the second, so I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t hold on,” she said.

“I let myself down on the greens in the final round. I just couldn’t get the putter going on those big, slopey links greens.

“Still, I learned a lot when I played in the RB Junior in Germany and I learned a lot this week. That’s the best part about these international tournaments. Hopefully the lessons I learned makes me a better golfer and the experience helps me help the Western Province to victory in the Inter-Provincial.”

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