SA squad prepping for Brabazon Trophy

Impressive performances by Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in the US Open on the weekend has left five of South Africa’s top ranked amateurs fired up ahead of the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship this week.

Gauteng North trio Teaghan Gauche, Jason Smith and Hendrikus Stoop, Southern Cape’s Jade Buitendag and Matthew Spacey from Central Gauteng will line up in a world-class field at Notts Golf Club in Hollinwell from 24 – 27June.

“We were all a little worse for the weather this morning after cheering Branden, Louis and Charl on to the finish line, but their performances at Chambers Bay, especially on Sunday, has lit a huge fire under the players,” said team manager, Kevin Stone.

South Africa has a proud history in prestigious championship and count four champions among the eight international winners since the Brabazon Trophy launched in 1947.

Neville Sundelson became the first winner outside the British Isles to lift the title at Moortown in 1974. Richard Kaplan triumphed in 1986 at Sunningdale and Craig Rivett shared the title with Scotsman Neil Roderick at Royal Liverpool in 1989.

Former Masters champion Schwartzel clinched victory at Royal Cinque Ports in 2002.

Stone said the team is hard at work and taking full advantage of the top class facilities at the Wiltshire Hotel Golf & Leisure Club in Swindon to prepare for this week.

“We are based at the Wiltshire and the owner is a fellow South African, Nigel Dunkley,” Stone said. “Nigel has really rolled out the red carpet for the players and given them full use of the state-of-the-art gym, with Technogym Wellness equipment, a cardio unit and circuit training. These players are fitness fanatics and this is about as good as it gets.”

The South African players have survived a few knocks since their tour began at the St Andrews Links Trophy in early June, but Stone said they remain positive and committed.

“The lads were dealt a huge blow when gale force winds forced the organisers of the St Andrews Links Trophy to cancel the second round,” Stone said.

“They all missed the cut and it was definitely not the start we were looking for. We got whipped by the Aussies and the Scots in the Tri-Series after making a good start, and no-one made the match play stage of the British Amateur.

“Teaghan injured his hand in the first round at St Andrews and had to sit out the Tri-Series and The Amateur due to De Quervains Syndrome, a serious form of tendinitis. But he is back this week and everyone else has bounced back from the knocks, too.

“They are really determined to end this tour to Britain on a high note. The lads have learned so much from playing top courses like St Andrews, Carnoustie, Panmure Links and Castle Stuart Golf Links and they hope to channel all that experience into a solid performance this week.”

The squad has three more days to put the finishing touches to their preparation for the Brabazon Trophy and taking advantage of every minute.

“After The Amateur Championship, we spend a day doing the tourist thing in London and the lads really enjoyed taking in all the world famous sites,” Stone said.

“Then they just got right back to practice. I really have to credit the boys for their commitment and their positive attitude and I have to thank sport psychologist Theo Bezuidenhout, who travelled with us for part of this trip.

“Theo kept the players focussed on staying positive and his input was valuable.”

Bezuidenhout and sixth member of the squad, James du Preez, are heading back to South Africa while the rest of the team ready to join 151 players from 17 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and the USA, at Notts Hill for the 72-hole challenge.

After 36 holes, the cut will be set to the leading 60 competitors and ties.

To view tee-times and live scoring from the Brabazon Trophy, click HERE

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

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