SA challengers seek home glory at SA Stroke Play
South Africa’s top amateurs will throw down the gauntlet against a strong foreign invasion in this year’s South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Benoni Country Club from 4-7 February.
South African number one Christiaan Bezuidenhout will spearhead the local challenge alongside Zander Lombard, reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence and NJ Arnoldi, respectively ranked second, third and fourth on the current South African Golf Association’s (SAGA) rankings.
The leading quartet will enjoy strong support from the rest of the top 10 ranked players, including Gerlou Roux, Louis Taylor, Teaghan Gauche, Philip Kruse, MJ Spacey and Tristen Strydom, as well as the country’s leading juniors Kyle McClatchie, Jovan Rebula, Hennie du Plessis, Altin van der Merwe and local favourite Jason Froneman.
A total of 40 top amateurs from nine countries have also entered the world-ranking championship, including 10 members of the Scottish Golf Union’s Mens National Squad, a 12-man French contingent and four players from the United Kingdom, led by the familiar face of England’s Toby Tree.
The local delegation are bound to come under fire from the strong international presence, but although Bezuidenhout is certain the foreigners will do their best to thwart the local bid for glory, the 19-year-old Ekurhuleni golfer is confident that the local contingent will step up to ensure the trophy stays on home soil.
“The SA Stroke Play is one of the two most prestigious tournaments on the South African amateur circuit, “said Bezuidenhout. “Of course we expect tough opposition from the visitors, but after our former number one, Haydn Porteous, defeated the international players in the last two years to win the title, we are determined to follow in his footsteps and keep the record going.
Following a watershed season that saw Bezuidenhout win five times on the open amateur circuit and vault to the number one spot in the rankings, the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member will arrive in Benoni carrying the confidence of back-to-back runner-up finishes at the season-opening Princes Grant Invitational and the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play Championship this month.
Bezuidenhout is excited to be playing in his ‘back yard’ and believes the venue will also motivate the rest of the local challengers.
“Benoni Country Club has been a regular stop on our junior and senior circuit for years now and I think our local knowledge will also work in our favour,” he said. “That, combined with our fighting spirit, should give one of us the edge over the foreigners.”
The SA Amateur Stroke Play will be played over 72 holes, and the field of 144 will be cut to 65 and ties after 36 holes.