SA duo claims top 10 in Argentina

South Africa’s Jason Smith and NJ Arnoldi combined for a ninth place finish in the 43rd Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup at the Los Lagartos Country Club in Pilar, Argentina on Sunday.

After earlier rounds of 71, 77 and 74, Arnoldi from Ekurhuleni racked up in five birdies in succession from the 11th hole at the Los Lagartos Country Club to close with a three-under-par 68 for a final total of 290.

Smith from Gauteng North opened with a two over 73 and added rounds of 76 and 75. In the final round, he erased a seven at the par-four second with an eagle three at the 15th and signed for a two over 73 to contribute 297 to the team’s overall tally.

The South African duo was joint fifth after an opening round 144, but slipped to joint 10th after a second round 153. They held on to 10th with 149 in the third round and the final round 141 gave them a final tally of 587.

“We are obviously disappointed with the result, but pleased that we managed to improve as the tournament progressed,” Smith said.

The TuksSport Golf Academy member added that the week had been a frustrating one from the moment they arrived.

“We flew in early to get acclimatised, but rained non-stop for three days and we barely got a play a full practice round before the tournament started.

“NJ and I were both hitting the ball incredibly well and we didn’t miss many fairways, but we just couldn’t get any momentum going. We both struggled to read these undulating greens; you could have a six foot putt that breaks two ways and the near-misses was mentally very exhausting.

“In the third round, a three-club wind gusted from every direction to make our task even more difficult, yet we are both encouraged by the fact that we improved over the last two rounds.

“We are both very positive ahead of the Argentinean Amateur this week.”

The South African pair will line up in the stroke play qualifier for the sixth oldest Amateur Championship at the nearby Highland Park Country Club along with a host of local nationals and 22 of the international campaigners in the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup.

Meanwhile Canadians Austin Connelly and Corey Conners claimed the country’s first victory in the prestigious event.

The pair shared the first round lead on 141 with Venezuela, but Connelly fired a six-under-par 65 to help the team push eight strokes clear of the field with a second round 137 and the side kept control with a third round 139.

Eighteen-year-old Connelly carded a final round 69 and US Amateur finalist Conners responded with a 68 for a final round 137 and a winning total of 554.
The Canadians finished 19 strokes clear of second placed Spain.

Connelly topped the Individual Competition leaderboard with 273, finishing seven strokes clear of local favourite Alejandro Tosti and nine shots ahead of Conners.

Arnoldi took 15th place in the Individual standings, while reigning SA Stroke Play champion Smith tied for 31st alongside Kadin Neho from New Zealand, and Argentineans Francisco Ruiz, Thomas Beitia and Miguel Sancholuz.

554 Canada 141-137-139-137
573 Spain 144-146-144-139
557 Chile 142-144-146-145
579 Argentina 142-146-152-139
581 Switzerland 148-147-143-143; Venezuela 149-148148-144
582 New Zealand 145-147-150-140; Ireland 146-145-149-142
587 South Africa 144-153-149-141
593 Brazil 148-145-152-148
595 Australia 152-147-152-144
598 Uruguay 152-149-146-151
606 Peru 159-151-151-145; Colombia 148-156-152-150
611 Mexico 156-149-154-152

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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