SA juniors make a strong start in Beijing
The language barrier in China may be a huge struggle, but four of South Africa’s top juniors just let their clubs do the talking in the first round of the Minsheng Beijing Junior Open on Wednesday.
Reigning Nomads SA Boys U-15 champion Herman Loubser from Boland and Gauteng North’s JP Cooper both slipped into the top 13 in the Boys 14-17 age group, while Southern Cape juniors Martin Vorster and Christo Lamprecht finished in the top five in the Boys 10-13 age group at the Tian’ An Golf Club outside Beijing.
Loubser, the South African Golf Association’s number two ranked junior, fired a two-over-par 74 to tie for eighth and lags five strokes behind the leader.
Third ranked Cooper from Wingate Park opened with a seven over 79 to finish 13th.
Vorster opened with a two-under-par 70 to finish in second. The Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy member will start the second round two strokes off the pace.
Outeniqua Primary School head boy Lamprecht tied for fourth after signing for an opening three over 75.
SAGA Integration Manager, Eden Thompson, who accompanied the players to Beijing, said tee shots were crucial to scoring at the championship layout.
“The fairways are generous and pretty wide visually, but the layout places a premium on position, especially when it comes to the greens clusters,” Thompson said.
“The greens are quick and have some very severe slopes. We had thunderstorms early this morning, which left the greens a little more receptive.”
The local quartet are competing against top juniors from the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, as well as local juniors from the Beijing University, Beijing Shichahai Sport School and Beijing Youth Golf Association, who had to advance through two qualifying rounds to make the grade for the prestigious junior championship.
Thompson said the team played two practice rounds, which helped them to acclimatise quickly.
“We spent the morning exploring the market, did some shopping and visited one of parks on the way to the Forbidden City, because we didn’t have access to the course on our arrival in Beijing on Sunday,” he said.
“However, we did get practice time on Monday and Tuesday. The senior boys played the juniors over the two practice rounds. The seniors won on Monday, but the youngsters came back with a vengeance on Tuesday.
“Herman lobbed a seven iron into the short eighth and the ball pitched about eight feet from the hole and hit the bottom of the cup. But not even his ace was enough to hold off Christo and Martin, who won with a birdie at the last hole.
“All four players are great ambassadors for South Africa and giving a very good account of themselves. I believe they will all do well over the next two rounds.”
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.