SA finish 12th in Spirit Invitational

Frittelli and Knoll at Whispering Pines Golf ClubThe South African Team, represented by Dylan Frittelli and Leon Knoll, in the men’s competition, and Kim Williams and Yvette du Plessis, in the women’s, finished tied in 12th place after Saturday’s final round in the 72 hole Spirit International Amateur, played at Whispering Pines Golf Club, located in the town of Trinity, Texas in the United States.

In a four ball competition, in which the best score, on each hole, in each of the men’s and women’s competition during each round counts, the South African team finished on 560, sixteen under par, tied with Australia.

The team event was won by hosts United States on 531, forty five shots under par.

“I was very proud in the manner that the team handled themselves,” said team manager and Womens Golf South Africa President, Erica Lefson.

The top twenty golf nations, on conclusion of the World Amateur Team Championships, which was played in Australia in 2008, are invited to participate in this prestigious competition. “Finishing 12th tie was disappointing for the players however in the company of the best amateur golfers in the world, on reflection, it was not a bad performance,” said Lefson.

Amongst the South Africans, in the men’s competition, 19 year old Dylan Frittelli was the steadier golfer of the two. The Irene Country Club amateur, who is now studying at the University of Texas, finished the championship having recorded fourteen birdies to Knoll’s ten. Knoll, 18 years old, is studying at the University of San Diego.

“Putts just did not drop for the boys in the final round,” said Lefson pointing out that the two players did not record a single birdie on the front nine, which for them were holes ten to eighteen. The men’s final round score was a two under par 70.

In the men’s competition South Africa finished 11th with a 72 hole total of 273, fifteen under par. They were twelve shots behind winners Italy.

SA team with Paula Creamer. From left Dylan Frittelli, Leon Knoll, Paula Creamer, Kim Williams and Yvette du PlessisWhile in the women’s competition, Kim Williams, 23 year old from Centurion, was the leading South African. She was partnered with Yvette du Plessis, the 35 year old Western Province golfer from Durbanville.

“Although the women played better in the final round, they did drop two shots on the last two holes which was most unfortunate,” said team manager Lefson.

The women finished 14th, having recorded their best round score in the final round, a two under par 70, with a 72 hole total of 287, one under par. This was 23 shots behind the winner, hosts United States.

The stand out player in the winning team (of the women’s competition) was 14 year old Alexis Thompson of the United States. She won the individual competition (which was based on the number of birdies recorded) with 17 birdies and was a member of the winning team. A feat achieved by only two players, none other than Lorena Ochoa (2001) and Paula Creamer (2003). Creamer happened to be the team captain for the victorious American team.

But the Spirit International Golf Championship was not only about golf. It was also about getting to know people from other countries.

On Sunday (1 November) the teams gathered in Houston. They enjoyed a “Houston experience’ by first participating in a charitable project, linked to the 1st Tee Programme. The next day it was a trip the Houston space centre. They all then drove out to Camp Olympia, where they were accommodated in cabins sleeping eight people, for the duration of the championship. Various social functions were arranged each night, ranging from a formal welcome dinner to a Texas Cookout Party and even an evening of karaoke.

Our very own Erica Lefson, never known to back off from enjoying a moment to the full, was voted by the staff as the best team captain. “As a result I got to light the Olympic Torch on the final night, a great honour,” said a clearly elated South African team manager.

The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship

Venue: Whispering Pines Golf Club, Trinity, Texas, US

Par: 72
Final Results:
Combined Team Competition
(Par: 576)

531 – United States (134,129,131,137)
535 – Korea (137,136,133,129)
543 – Denmark (134,138,133,138)
544 – Chinese Taipei (130,136,144,134)
545 – England (136,135,134,140)
552 – Germany (134,141,138,139)
553 – Italy (139,137,140,137)
555 – Sweden (136,137,145,137), Canada (141,136,141,137)
556 – Colombia (135,137,141,143)
559 – France (139,136,141,143)
560 – South Africa (142,136,142,140), Australia (145,141,139,135)

Men’s Competition
(Par: 288)

261 – Italy (64,64,67,66)
264 – Korea (67,66,67,64)
265 – Chinese Taipei (63,64,73,65)
266 – Canada (66,68,67,65), Denmark (65,69,66,66)
267 – Sweden (64,68,69,66), United States (68,65,65,69)

Other Scores
273 – South Africa (71,67,65,70)

Men’s Individual (Birdies)

20 – Bum-Geun Chae (Korea)
17 – Andrea Pavan (Italy), Lucas Justr Bjerregaard (Denmark)
16 – Tao Huang (Chinese Taipei), Niclas Carlsson (Swedon)

Other Scores
14 – Dylan Frittelli (South Africa)
10 – Leon Knoll (South Africa)

Women’s Competition
(Par: 288)

264 – United States (66,64,66,68)
271 – Korea (70,70,66,65)
275 – Colombia (66,67,70,72)
277 – Denmark (69,69,67,72), England (65,71,68,73), France (68,66,71,72)

Other Scores
285 – South Africa (71,69,77,70)

Women’s Individual (Birdies)

17 – Alexis Thompson (Unites States)
15 – Chihiro Ikeda (Philippines), Hyo-Joo Kim (Korea)
13 – Hsuan-Yu Yao (Chinese Taipei), Lus Alejandra Cangerjo (Colombia)
12 – Martina Gavier (Argentina), Kim Williams (South Africa), Rachel Jennings (England)

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