Knoll and Claassen tee up in Austraila
Leon Knoll and JG Claassen, two of South Africa’s top amateur golfers, tee up in the 72 hole stroke play tournament, known as the Master of the Amateurs Championship, in Melbourne, Australia today.
A top class field which includes some of the world’s best amateurs golfers. Three are in the top ten on the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings, published by the R&A, they are Victor Dubuisson (who is ranked No 2), of France, and two Americans namely Morgan Hoffman (5) and Bud Cauley (6). In addition to the leading players from the host nation, top players from Great Britain, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Fiji are also participating.
Playing at the Yarra Yarra Golf Club, one of the well known coastal golf course on the sand belt in the heart of Melbourne, the two South Africans will be looking to get their hands on the trophy after 72 holes. The winner, of this prestigious championship, gets invitations to compete in the British Amateur and three other top amateur tournaments in the United States.
“This is my first tournament in Australia,” said Leon Knoll, the nineteen year old South African who is currently studying at the University of San Diego, just before departing over the weekend. “ This is a big amateur event; I have been practicing hard.”
Knoll, who resides at Silver Lakes Country Club just outside Pretoria, is particularly fired up about his golf after having played nine holes with Gary Player at Goose Valley Golf Club in Plettenberg Bay over the Christmas holidays. “It was really motivating as well as an honour and privilege to have played with Gary Player,” enthused South Africa’s number one ranked amateur according to the latest South African Golf Association Player Rankings. “We chatted a lot, he helped with advise on how to improve my technique but most of all he inspired me. You would not say he is 74 years old!”
Knoll struggled with his form during the South African Open Championship last month, finishing near the bottom of the field after 36 holes thereby failing to make the cut. “I have had a tough time adapting to university life in California,” said Knoll. “I feel that this coming semester will go better particularly from a golf perspective, I feel I am improving again,” he commented.
Playing with Knoll is the exciting your eighteen year old from Orkney Golf Club, JG Claassen. He too, said before he left for Australia, that he had been practicing hard over the holidays at Mossel Bay Golf Club and at its neighbouring golf courses.
“It is my first time in Australia as well,” pointed out the tall long hitting North West Province amateur.
Claassen had a great year in amateur golf in 2009, winning ten tournaments through the year, which included the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship, the Zimbabwe Amateur Stroke Play Championship and teaming up with Ryan Dreyer to win the International Team Event at the Juan Carols Tailhade Cup in Argentina.
During the South African Open Championship Claassen indicated that one of his goals in 2010 is to get as much international playing experience as possible, participating in this prestigious championship is therefore ideal way him to start off his competitive year.
The championship will be played over four days, the final round being played on Thursday 14 January 2010.