SA junior quartet to challenge in Italy

Wilco Nienaber from Free State will be taking his cue from Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in his debut at the Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship and Nations Cup from 1-3 September.

“I think all the juniors in South Africa can learn a lot from the way Louis played the US Open last month and the final round of The Open on Monday,” said the 15-year-old Bloemfontein golfer.

“Under all that pressure, he stayed patient, didn’t get aggressive and he played for position. We were all disappointed that he didn’t win, but second place finishes in back-to-back Majors is impressive.

“I admire Louis for his determination, his patience and the way he never gives up. That’s exactly the kind of golfer I want to become.”

Nienaber will line up in the prestigious international championship with reigning Nomads SA Boys U-17 champion Herman Loubser, Luke Mayo and Luca Filippi.

Loubser from Boland, KwaZulu-Natal’s Mayo and Filippi from Western Province represented the South African Golf Association last year with the country’s number one ranked junior Dylan Naidoo.

Filippi was the only player to make the 36-hole cut at Golf Club Biella and finished joint 11th.

“I think it’s great that Herman, Luca and Luke get another shot at the course and it actually helps me too,” Nienaber said. “They know exactly what to expect and we are already sharing information.

“Luke was telling me last week that accuracy off the tee is key to scoring, because the course is heavily bunkered and there are a lot of hazards. He said that he struggled last year, because the course sets up for a draw and he was fading the ball.

“It’s nice that we all know what to expect and we can work that into our preparation.”

Nienaber rose to prominence when he claimed his first national title in the Nomads SA Boys Under-15 Championship by 10 strokes in early January. Just four days later, his own brand of resilience helped him to reel in his second national title at Durban Country Club.

The Free State junior carried a two shot lead into the final round of the Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal, but his challenge took a major knock with a quadruple bogey at the par-five eighth hole. He rallied, though, to tie Filippi and Kyle McClatchie from Ekurhuleni at the end of regulation play and clinched victory with an eagle at the first play-off hole.

“I wasn’t thinking about winning the tournament,” Nienaber said.

“I just wanted to undo the damage of that nine. I kept grinding and that helped me to catch up to Kyle and Luca. You have to focus on the shot at hand to get somewhere down the line.”

The Italian International Under-16 Championship is a World Amateur Golf Ranking event and traditionally draws top junior amateurs from around 20 countries.

“I am not intimidated by the international element of the championship,” Nienaber said. “I competed in the Kids Golf Championships in Europe and the United States in 2010 and I learned then that you can’t do anything about the opposition.

“The only thing you can control is what you do on the golf course; the rest is out of your hands.”
Eden Thompson, Golf Integration Manager at the South African Golf Association, said events like the Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship is vital in the development of young players.

“The chance for our juniors to go up against the cream of the crop in Europe is a great opportunity,” Thompson said.

“International competition is vital to their overall development and it also affords us the opportunity to see how they measure up outside their comfort zone and what aspects of their games need further development.”


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

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