Strong SA Junior Team for World Team Championships
Four of South Africa’s top junior golfers will be attempting to win, for the second time in the history of the event, the Toyota World Junior Team Championships which commences tomorrow over the par 72 Ishino Course, Chukyo Golf Club just outside Nagoya, Japan.
“We have assembled one of the strongest teams since we last won in 2001,” said Ann Rycraft, the team manager and President of the South African Junior Golf Foundation, just before departing for Japan last week.
The team is made up of Dylan Frittelli (Irene C.C., Gauteng North), Leon-Brink Knoll (Silver Lakes G.C., Gauteng North), Andre de Decker (Westlake G.C., Western Province) and JG Claasen (Orkney G.C., North West). Accompanying the team is national junior coach, Gavan Levenson.
There are 16 countries competing in the 72 hole stroke play team event, which is played over 4 days, 18 holes each day. The best three scores by each team count, the team recording the lowest 72 hole aggregate score wins. Some of the countries participating are United States, Sweden, host nation Japan, India, England, Colombia, Australia, Korea, Mexico and Kenya.
There is also an individual competition, the Maruyama Cup, going to the player recording the lowest 72 hole aggregate.
Eighteen year old Dylan Frittelli is the team captain and the only South African in the team to have participated in this tournament last year. “I have had three weeks off, a much needed break after having played a lot of competition golf over the last couple of months,” said the current national U18 Boys Champion. “I am looking forward to competing again,’ he concluded.
Frittelli, who is currently ranked no. 1 amateur golfer in South Africa, according to the latest South African Golf Association’s Player Rankings, will have his eye on the individual competition having already proved he can compete overseas. Last year he won the Callaway Junior World Championships played at Torrey Pines in San Diego, the host venue for the 2008 US Open.
Fellow Gauteng North player, 17 year old Leon-Brink Knoll finished second in the SA Stroke Play Championship played at Pearl Valley Golf Estates in February this year. He and 18 year old Andre de Decker, the only Western Province player in the team, lost to Frittelli in a three way playoff for the title in the SA U18 Boys Championship recently. Both players have shown great promise and should fulfil a strong supporting role to Frittelli.
The final player in the team, and the youngest of the four, at 17 years of age, is JG Claasen.
The Toyota World Junior Team Championship was won by Sweden last year with a 72 hole aggregate of 823, 29 under par. South Africa finished 5th, 22 shots back. It was staged at the same venue as this year.
“In 2001, the year we won, Charl Schwartzel was one of the players in the team,” remembered Ann Rycraft, who also sits on the International Advisory Board of this competition. Commenting on past team performances, Rycraft pointed out that South Africa got second place in 2000 and 2004. “We have a rich history when it comes to performances by junior golfers,” she proudly concluded.
Over 60 countries participated this year in qualifying competitions on 6 continents. “This is one of junior golf’s most prestigious international competitions,” concluded Rycraft.