SA Juniors in touch at Junior Golf World Cup challenge
South Africa’s juniors got off to a solid start in the first round of the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup 2013, supported by JAL, in Toyota City, at Tokyo’s Chukyo Country Club in Aichi-Prefecture, Japan on Tuesday.
The Venezuelan team set the first round target at the Inshino Course with an opening six-under-par 207, but the local heroes finished just four shots adrift. South Africa is tied for fourth alongside Germany on 211, three shots behind second placed Mexico, who combined for a five-under-par 208, and two off the pace from defending champions Australia in third place.
Chile, Chinese Taipei, Japan and the United States tied for sixth on one under 212, while Sweden, Korea and Costa Rica finished on 216, 218 and 223 respectively.
South Africa’s James du Preez got proceedings underway and collected five birdies, offset by two bogeys, to signed for a three-under-par 68.
Thriston Lawrence dropped shots on his first two holes, but the reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion hit back with three birdies to finish at one under 70. The Mpumalanga player boxed one putt for birdie at the tough par-four fourth hole, rolled in another for birdie at the 11th and tapped in for birdie at the 15th after just leaving short an eagle putt.
Jason Froneman triple-bogeyed the tough 460-yard fourth and dropped two more shots at 12 and 13, but the Ekurhuleni player quickly stemmed the bleeding with birdies at the 14th and 15th to close with a 73 that took the team’s total to two-under-par 2011.
Gauteng North’s Tristen Strydom also doubled the fourth and signed for an eight at the par-four eighth to sign off on a non-counting 77.
SA coach and manager Llewellyn van Leeuwen tore ligaments in his right ankle just a couple of days before the team left for Japan. Even with pain and the discomfort of hopping along in a moon boot, the SA coach kept a close eye on his charges and was upbeat about the team’s performance.
“I am happy with how the boys started and I expects them to improve in the next couple of rounds,” Van Leeuwen said. “James had a very good start to his tournament, while Triston and Jason showed again what gritty competitors they are.
“Jason has a great attitude, especially when the stakes are down, and he never gives up fighting. I expect a low one from him this week. Tristen gave up a lot of shots on two holes, but he will come back fighting, too.”
The Tuksgolf Club and Academies head coach and technical director said the course is tough, but fair and conditions are ideal for scoring to improve.
“The Ishino Course is absolutely pristine and the greens are really smooth,” he said. “The wind does swirl a lot, but the large greens makes it a tad easier to navigate from tee to green. It has been very hot and humid, but the boys have adjusted well over the weekend. I think they can still go lower.”
Meanwhile Venezuela’s Gustavo Morantes and Ryan Ruffels from Australia share the first round lead in the individual rankings on 67, with Du Preez just one stroke off the pace and tied for third Germany’s Maximilian Mehles and Aaron Terrazas from Mexico.
Du Preez was just hitting his stride when back injuries forced him to the side lines last year.
After a frustrating period waiting out his injuries, the 17-year-old golfer Gauteng North golfer underlined his return to form when he shared in the All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge with Lawrence, Froneman and Strydom in Mauritius in April.
Thunderstorms are forecast for Wednesday’s second round. For more information, please visit www.wjgtc.org or www.facebook.com/ToyotaJuniorGolfWorldCup.
FIRST ROUND TEAM STANDINGS
207 (-6) Venezuela 67-69-71
208 (-5) Mexico 68-70-70
209 (-4) Australia 67-71-71
211 (-2) South Africa 68-70-73; Germany 68-70-73
212 (-1) Chile 69-69-74; Chinese Taipei 69-70-73; Japan 69-71-72; United States 70-71-71
216 (+3) Sweden 71-72-73
218 (+5) Korea 70-73-75
223 (+10) Costa Rica 72-72-79
FIRST ROUND INDIVIDUAL STANDINGS (TOP 20)
67 Gustavo Morantes (VEN); Ryan Ruffels (AUS)
68 James du Preez (RSA); Maximilian Mehles (GER); Aaron Terrazas (MEX)
69 Claudio Correa (CHL); Jorge Garcia (VEN); Soma Kitamura (JAP); Chang-Heng Lin (TPE); Guillermo Pereira (CHL)
70 Thriston Lawrence (RSA); Nam Seung Hui (KOR); Jonas Liebich (GER); Chieh-Po Lee (TPE); Luis Gerardo (MEX); Emilio Maurer (MEX); Scott Scheffler (USA)
71 Antonio Murdaca (AUS); Lucas Herbert (AUS); Marcus Kinhult (SWE); Naoya Kaneko (JAP); Gustavo Leon (VEN); Cameron Champ (USA); Adam Wood (USA)
73 Jason Froneman (RSA)
77 Tristen Strydom (RSA)
South Africa has only tasted success once in the 21-year history of the event, with SA major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel helping the country to victory in 2001.
The TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup is the only junior golf championship in the world where the winning nations qualify to compete for the world championship title. Nearly 60 national teams participated in the regional qualifying events held on six continents.
In addition Oosthuizen and Schwartzel, Masters Champion Trevor Immelman was also a former participant in this event. Other notable former participants include Brendon de Jonge from Zimbabwe, Henrik Stenson from Sweden, Americans Anthony Kim, Kyle Stanley and Hunter Mahan, Ryuji Imada from Japan, Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, Justin Rose from England and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas.