McClatchie leads SA young guns against French
SA number one junior Kyle McClatchie is primed to lead a quartet of talented juniors in a two-day Test against France at his home course, the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate, at the end of January.
The Ekurhuleni junior recently took the number one spot on the South African Golf Association’s junior rankings after lifting the Dr Bam Nomads National Order of Merit title in a play-off.
McClatchie will be joined by reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence from Mpumalanga, Nomads SA Boys U-17 champion Jovan Rebula from Southern Cape and reigning Kenya Open Amateur champion Hennie du Plessis from Polokwane in the two-day event.
The 16-year-old KES scholar was delighted with the chance to represent South Africa in the curtain-raiser to this year’s South African Stroke Play Championship.
“Getting international exposure is always a plus for us, but you also couldn’t ask for a better way to prepare for the Stroke Play than to go toe-to-toe against the French,” said McClatchie.
“We know we will have to bring our best to the course, because the French are always tough competitors.
“The four of us are equally determined, though, and we share same ‘never-say-die’ attitude, so will show them a real fight.”
The format for the Test will be foursomes and singles on both days and the matches will be contested on the Masai Mara course at Serengeti.
The Jack Nicklaus design provided the backdrop for the SAGA’s 2011 and 2012 South African Open Championships. McClatchie is certain that the championship layout will serve up the same challenges that faced the respective champions, Hennie Otto and Henrik Stenson.
“It’s pretty cool that we are playing at my home course, but the Masai Mara is a really tough layout and I just hope I can use the advantage to gain an early edge,” he said. “The fairways are deceptive because they appear wide, but if you hit it just a little offline, you can be in real trouble. And the greens are very undulating, so you have to hit it to the right side of the pin to score.”
SAGA Junior, Senior and Development coordinator Eden Thompson is quietly confident of his charges and their chances against the French junior side.
“We are just three weeks into the new season, but all four players are in good form, as highlighted by their recent performances, and are worthy flag bearers for the SAGA,” Thompson said.
“Jovan won the second Nomads National Order of Merit tournament at Royal Durban and Kyle finished eighth in that event. Just a week later, Kyle defeated Hennie at the second hole in a play-off to win the Dr Bam and Jovan took third place.
“Meanwhile Thriston played the Open Amateur circuit. He finished fourth at the Prince’s Grant Invitational and won the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play Championship last week, beating the country’s number one player.
“It has been exciting to watch them develop into top campaigners and I believe they have the form and the fighting spirit to take on the French. However, despite the eventual result, this Test is about giving both teams the chance to gain international experience and that is an invaluable opportunity for our youngsters in the development of their careers.”
The four French juniors facing the South African onslaught are Alexandre Daydou from Cannes Mougins Golf Club, Paul Elissalde from Biarritz le Phare and Chantilly Golf Club’s Thomas Le Berre and Victor Veyret.
Following the Test, the eight players will complete the 144-man field chasing glory at the 35th South African Stroke Play Championship at Benoni Country Club from 4-7 February.