If you thought that a tie for 12th in last week’s Nomads National Order of Merit Inland at Houghton Golf Club signalled the end of Jayden Schaper’s extraordinary victory run this season, think again.
The 16-year-old Ebotse golfer shut out any doubt about his talent when he navigated Pretoria Country Club in 10-under-par 62 to defend his Tshwane Junior Open title with an 11 stroke margin on Friday.
Just last week, Schaper rewrote the record books this year when he became the first junior to win all four SA Boys titles.
In addition to winning the Nomads SA Boys U-19 and U-17 Championships, the GolfRSA National Squad player claimed a one shot victory in the Dimension Data Junior Open at Fancourt two weeks ago and his fifth visit to the winner’s circle this season makes Schaper the most decorated winner on the Sunshine Junior Series with three titles.
One off the pace after an opening one under 71, Schaper made the perfect start with a birdie at the first as overnight leader Gauteng North’s Werner Deyzel faltered with a double bogey. He erased the solitary blemish on his card at the third with an eagle at the par-five fourth, added a pair of gains at five and six and turned six under with another brace of birdies at eight and nine.
“I found the fairway bunker off the tee at the third, but pitched the green with the trap shot,” said Schaper.
“Unfortunately the par putt slipped past the hole and I tapped in for bogey. I hit a great drive down the par five and a nine-iron to 15-foot and boxed eagle putt. Drained a 20-footer for birdie at the fifth and chipped it to six foot at six and holed the birdie putt. At eight, I holed another six-footer and at nine, I hit a five-iron from the bunker short of the green and chipped to a foot for another birdie.”
Schaper headed down the homeward loop, having opened up a yawning gap on the rest of the field.
Christiaan Burke from North West overcame a bogey start with a pair of birdies and an eagle at the fourth and birdied the seventh to move to three under. Southern Cape’s Alex van Wyk, who also dropped at the first hole, racked up birdies at three, four and six to turn one under. Deyzel lost more ground with a triple at the second, but rallied with birdies at four, six and eight to get back to level par.
Schaper, meanwhile, was oblivious to the feeding frenzy for second.
“I was striking the ball well and putting well,” he said. “I holed a 25-footer at 11 birdie, so I just relaxed down the back nine and tried to see how low I could go.”
Schaper hit another great five-iron out of the bunker at 15 and a grip-down nine-iron to seven feet at 15 for birdie number seven.
“I caught a mound off the tee at 17 and finished short of the green,” he said. “The greens were too firm to chip, so I putted to six foot and boxed the second for birdie. I didn’t hit a great drive down 18 and finished down the right. I had 240 metres left, but a tough shot to the green. I hit it left of the green, putted up to five feet and holed out for the birdie.
“To shoot 62 around Pretoria Country Club is just awesome. I felt good and I wanted to shoot a low score and to win by such a large margin gives me a lot of confidence. I won’t be able to shoot for a hat-trick at the Sun International Africa Junior Open at the Fish River Sun in August, though. I’ve taken so much time off school. Plus we’ve got the Fellowship Cup Test coming up against India next month. The Home Zone Education Centre Ebotse has been patient, but it’s time to hit the books.”
Burke closed with a 71 to finish second on even par 144, while Deyzel and Van Wyk shared third on 146 after respective rounds of 76 and 73.
Schaper will have to hit the books even harder after being named as one of the four juniors to compete for the Teodoro Soldati Trophy at the 11th REPLY Italian International U-16 Championship.
Southern Cape’s Martin Vorster, Ayden Senger from Western Province and Andre van Dyk from North West – respectively ranked third, fourth and fifth on the Under-17 Standings – will join the country’s number one ranked junior at Biella Golf Club Le Betulle in Italy from 5-7 September.
Final Result (top 20)
133 Jayden Schaper 71 62
144 Christiaan Burke 73 71
146 Alex van Wyk 73 73; Werner Deyzel 70 76
147 Stals Swart 74 73
148 Wilco Nienaber 75 73
149 Cole Stevens 76 73; Shaun Jones 72 77
150 Casey Jarvis 74 76; Keanu Pestana 73 77
151 Jordan Duminy 77 74; Bradley de Beer 76 75
152 Keegan Mclachlan 79 73; Otto van Buynder 77 75; Ben van Wyk 73 79
153 Brendan Porter 78 75; Rigardt Albertse 74 79
154 Liam Cloete 79 75; Martin Vorster 78 76; Jordan Burnand 76 78; Dandre Spies 76 78; Massimo Mbetse USA 76 78
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.