28 September 2017 – It felt all too familiar, watching the Junior International Team fire in Tuesday’s singles session in the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup. Just like the Internationals have done since the first Presidents Cup in 1994, the juniors gave it all on the last day, but it was all for naught.
The damage done in Monday’s morning four-ball and afternoon foursomes sessions at Plainfield Country Club was simply too much to overcome and the spoils went to the highly regarded United States team.
However, the Internationals didn’t go down without a fight, winning seven of the 12 singles.
The U.S. Team won 14-10 overall, but the 12 lads hailing from seven countries around the world could leave New Jersey with their heads held high.
Christo Lamprecht from George spoke for all the GolfRSA National Squad players when he said they would draw on this experience for years to come.
“It was really tough playing the Americans in their own back yard,” said the 2016 Sanlam SA Amateur champion. “We knew it would take a huge effort to take the cup, but you saw the determination on everyone’s faces as we walked to the first tee. We are very proud that we contributed four points as South Africa and winning my singles match felt incredible. The cherry on the best week of my life.”
The first four-ball match went the distance as Americans Noah Goodwin and Cole Hammer halved the match with South Africa’s Garrick Higgo and Rayhan Thomas of India.
SA pair Jayden Schaper and Luca Filippi mounted a comeback against William Mouw and Turner Hosch after being down or all square from the third to the 13th hole. Schaper holed a 20-foot eagle putt at 14 to gain momentum and the pair ultimately halved the match with a par on the final hole.
During afternoon foursomes, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai from Thailand and Indonesia’s Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan combined for four birdies to defeat Mouw and Joe Highsmith 1-up.
The U.S. team entered the final day of competition with a 9 – 3 lead, but the Internationals made them work for the three-and-a-half points needed to clinch victory.
South Africa’s Higgo routed Eugene Hong 4 & 3, Lamprecht downed Cole Hammer 3 & 1 and Filippi edged out Jacob Bridgeman 3 & 2 to rack up three points for team captain Trevor Immelman.
Karl Vilips – a 16-year-old rising star from Australia – downed Prescott Butler 4 & 3. Sean Maruyama from Japan routed Turner Hosch 5 & 3 and China’s Wocheng Ye eliminated Joe Highsmith 2 & 1. Winaicharoenchai defeated U.S. Junior Am champion Goodwin 3 & 1 to finish as the top performer on the International team.
In a ding-dong battle with Trent Phillips, Schaper went 1-up when the American dropped at 15 but the match was all square again when the Nomads SA Boys U-19 champion bogeyed 16. Phillips birdied 17 to take the lead and won the match 1-up with a birdie at the last hole.
“It was such a huge honour to represent South Africa in this event,” said Higgo from Stellenbosch.
“Standing with the rest of the team at the opening ceremony it really hit home that Christo, Jayden, Luca and I were part of history playing in the first-ever Junior Presidents Cup. It was so much more than we could ever imagine. This was the best experience of our lives and I’ll always cherish this.”
Filippi from Milnerton and Benoni’s Schaper concurred.
“It was the most amazing experience to play alongside some of the best juniors in the world,” said Filippi. “Nothing could have prepared us for this week, but I still think we did South Africa proud and winning my singles game was the sweetest feeling ever.
“To meet Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Trevor Immelman, Tiger Woods, all the South Africans on the Presidents Cup team was amazing. To meet players that we have looked up to and admired and to get words of advice and encouragement from them is something you cannot put a price on.”
Schaper said: “You are always going to think that you could have done this or that differently, but you have to look at the whole experience and take the best bits to build on for the future.
“This entire experience has been an unbelievable journey and it’s something the four of us will talk cherish for life. In 20 years from now, we will look back and still talk about being the first guys to compete in the Junior Presidents Cup.
“We want to thank the PGA Tour and the American Junior Golf Association for giving us this incredible opportunity. Also a big thank you to everyone from GolfRSA, the South African Golf Association and all our friends for their messages of support. And last, but not least, our parents who walked every hole and supported us from the gallery. It was great to have some fans out there.”
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.