SA quartet primed for Spirit International
Four of South Africa’s top ranked amateur golfers will be pursuing the country’s first success in the Spirit International, which tees off at the renowned Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas on Monday.
The quartet tasked with flying the South African flag in the eighth edition of this prestigious event are Ivanna Samu and Kaleigh Telfer, Teaghan Gauche and Matthew Spacey.
Samu is the country’s reigning number one while Telfer is second in Womens Golf South Africa Senior Rankings. Gauche and Spacey are respectively ranked second and fourth in the South African Golf Association’s Open Amateur standings.
“The Spirit International is limited to 80 of the world’s top ranked amateurs from 20 countries,” explained Womens Golf South Africa President Karen Olivant.
“The championship is played in alternate years to the World Amateur Team Championship and we are incredibly proud that South Africa has once again qualified to compete in this prestigious biennial international championship.
“Our 2013 team continued a proud record for South Africa in this championship with a third top five finish and we are eager to see how Ivanna, Kaleigh, Teaghan and Matthew will fare against the world-class line-up.”
The 2015 team certainly has big aspirations.
“South Africa’s best finish was in 2005 when George Coetzee, Josh Cunliffe, Ashleigh Simon and Kelli Shean tied for second,” said Gauche.
“The competition will be fierce, but we hope to match or better their result. We have worked hard in preparation of this championship and we are all incredibly excited to get started.”
Each country fields a team of four players who compete in three concurrent competitions.
The men and women compete in individual competitions and their four-ball scores are combined to make up the team total.
South African Golf Association President Gerhard Conradie believes the quartet are up to the task.
“At least 75% of the players in the field are national title holders, which exemplifies the depth of the field in this championship,” Conradie said.
“However, our players all gained invaluable experience competing on the international stage this year and this will serve them well in such a highly competitive field. This team definitely has the ability, the fighting spirit and determination to pull off a top three finish,”
Samu and Telfer competed in the Annika Invitational Europe and Girl’s British Open Amateur Championship in August.
Both players qualified for the match play stage of the Girl’s British Open Amateur Championship. Telfer got past the first round and Samu reached the semi-final and both girls were beaten at the 23rd hole in their respective matches by the 2015 champion, Sandra Nordaas from Norway.
In September, Samu claimed a runner-up finish in the Girls Competition and finished ninth overall in the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy, while Telfer reeled in a hat-trick of provincial titles.
The pair were also highly instrumental in helping Gauteng secure a runaway victory in the South African Women’s Inter-Provincial last week.
In addition to seven top five finishes at home this season, Gauche flew the flag for South Africa at the Summer Universiade in Korea in July, where the team finished ninth overall.
Spacey, with six top 10 finishes on the provincial circuit, recently shared in back-to-back victories for Gauteng at the premier South African Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest.
Both players represented South Africa in the Leopard Trophy against Scotland and the Africa Zone VI Golf Tournament and travelled with the SA squad to the United Kingdom in June.
Olivant said that while the gold medal chase is important, there are other, equally significant facets to an event as prestigious as the Spirit International.
“Our players will be exposed to an event with a real Olympic feel,” Olivant said.
“They will attend the open and closing ceremonies, stay in the international village accommodation at Camp Olympia and have the chance to forge new friendships during the evening activities.
“The Spirit International represents the opportunity of a lifetime for our players to measure themselves against the cream of international golf and to create fantastic memories.”
WGSA National Coach Val Holland has accompanied the team to the United States
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association and Womens Golf South Africa.