SA quartet primed for Italian challenge

Four of the country’s top juniors will line up in the Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship in Biella, Italy from 1 to 3 September.

Reigning SA Boys Under-15 champion Wilco Nienaber from Free State will be making his debut in the esteemed international junior championship, while 2015 Nomads SA Boys Under-17 champion Herman Loubser from Boland, fourth ranked Luca Filippi from Western Province and 10th ranked Luke Mayo from KwaZulu-Natal will have a second stab at glory in the highly acclaimed junior championship.

South African Golf Association Golf Integration Manager Eden Thompson said the quartet are eager to start the 72-hole stroke play event after two practice rounds at the Golf Club Biella.

“Our practice rounds went very well, although it has been 30-plus degrees each day,” Thompson said.

“This course is ranked among the top courses in Italy and a real shot-maker’s course. It course winds through dense woods of birches and beech trees and is extremely tight.

“The layout is heavily bunkered with well-placed hazards and it is technically very challenging. The fast greens and tight layout puts a premium on accuracy and planning. It is definitely not the kind of course where you can just blast your way around.

“All players are excited to get started, especially Herman and Luke, who both struggled last year. All four of them are in good form and feeling confident about their prospects this year.”

The ninth edition of the prestigious international championship will pay special tribute to defending champion, Teodoro Soldati.

“The organisers have renamed the trophy in honour of Theo, who passed away unexpectedly this July,” said 16-year-old Filippi.

“Teodoro was diagnosed with fulminant leukaemia just after he competed in the European Boys Team Championship in May. He died just a month before his 16th birthday and the news came as a massive shock to Herman, Luke and myself.

“He was one of Italy’s up-and-coming juniors and his death reminds us that we have to make the most of every opportunity, because you never know what lies ahead for you.”

The first two rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday will be followed by a cut to 40 and ties and the final two rounds will be played on Thursday.

“Luca, Herman and Wilco will also compete for The Nations’ Trophy, which takes place concurrently with the first two rounds of the stroke play championship,” Thompson said.

“Each country is allowed to enter one team of three players and the best two scores count towards the team total in each round.”

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

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