Sherriff, Meichtry take early pole in SAJI
Michael Sherriff took early control in the Boys Division of the Curro South African Juniors International (SAJI), while Azelia Meichtry from Switzerland led the Girls Division after first round action wrapped up in the Global Junior Golf Tour season opener at Durbanville Golf Club on Tuesday.
Sherriff and Meichtry were among only four players that managed to break par on a very windy day in the Western Cape.
Meichtry immediately impressed with a sensational wire-to-wire victory in the Nomads WGWP Junior Championship just four days after her arrival in South Africa in early January.
The Swiss golfer, who tied for eighth at the Summer Youth Olympics in Beijing last year, has been honing her craft at the KeNako Academy in George and used her skill in the wind to open with a one-under-par 71.
Meichtry had two bogeys and lone birdie in her opening loop, but after dropping another shot at the par-three fourth, the 17-year-old junior rallied with three birdies over the last five holes.
She leads by two from South Africa’s Woo-Ju Son, and has a five stroke edge on 14-year-old Isabella Holpfer from Austria and defending champion Kaleigh Telfer from South Africa.
Fourteen-year-old Son from Eagle Canyon also came into the championship carrying some great form.
Son finished third in the Border and the Gauteng North Junior Girls Championships and claimed a share of third in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Open last week.
Meanwhile South Africa’s top ranked amateur, Ivanna Samu – already a two-time winner on the South African junior circuit this season – opened with a 78 to tie for eighth with Eastern Province Championship winner, Bianca Theron.
Sherriff posted a three-under-par 69 to lead by one stroke from compatriot Willem Boshoff, while Finland’s Sami Välimäki finished two off the pace.
Sherriff carried a lot of confidence into the prestigious junior championship, coming off a runner-up finish at the same course in the Western Province U-23 Championship on Sunday.
The 17-year-old Bellville golfer notched his first birdie at the 13th, surrendered the gain with a two-putt bogey at the 14th, but got back to one under with a superb eagle at the par-five 15th.
“I hit a good tee shot down the middle of the fairway, but it didn’t travel as far as I intended,” said Sherriff. “I still had about 210 meters left to the pin, so I hit a four-iron straight to the middle of the green and holed a 35-footer for the eagle. It was really playing tough in the swirling wind and that eagle really gave my round some momentum.”
Sherriff boxed another long one for birdie at the second and got to four under with a birdie putt at the fifth.
“I was hoping for another eagle, but I left the 30-footer a bit short,” he said. “I three-putted for bogey at the par-three seventh, but I made a solid birdie at the eighth to get back to four under. Then I messed it at the ninth.
“I drove it into a bunker, tried to hole it and just got too cute with the shot. Still, I am happy with a 69 in the conditions. It’s good to be in a challenging position so early in the tournament.”
About the Curro South African Juniors International (SAJI)
This is the fifth time South Africa plays host to the Curro South African Juniors International is the only junior international tournament and the second time the event is sponsored by Curro.
The field of 150 competitors include 83 international under 19 boys and girls from Korea, Mexico, USA, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Northern Ireland, Reunion, France, Namibia, UAE, Scotland, Austria, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Colombia and the host nation.
This marks the largest ever international participation of junior golfers to have played a tournament in South Africa. The SAJI is a fully integrated international amateur event and is endorsed by the Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA) and the South African Golf Association (SAGA).
The SAJI qualifies for World Junior Rankings and the Royal & Ancient World Amateur Rankings, as well as SAGA and WGSA ranking points.
The organisers of the SAJI also created opportunities to showcase the world of golf to the youth of South Africa who may not otherwise have had the opportunity. Ten spots were allocated to seven boys and three girls currently enrolled in the South African Development Board programme.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association and Womens Golf South Africa.