Top 10 finish – Eisenhower Team objective

From left Cameron Johnston and Jacques BlaauwThe South African amateur golf team competing in the 72 hole Eisenhower Trophy, which commences tomorrow, will be looking finish in the top ten, according to team captain Enver Hassen.

The 72 countries have entered the prestigious tournament, which forms part of the World Amateur Team Championships. Each country enters three players, the best two scores count in each of the four rounds, playing stroke play. It is being played at the Grange Golf Club, West Course, par 72, and Royal Adelaide Golf Club, a par 73 links course, both situated in the town of Adelaide, South Australia

“In 1998 we finished 10th, that being our best result in this competition since being readmitted to international sport,” said Hassen, who is also the South African Golf Association’s (SAGA) President.

“We have an experienced team of three players, all of whom have played international tournaments this year with some success. In fact they travelled together to the Barratt Amateur Invitational in Canada, in August this year,” pointed out Hassen.

Making up the team are Dylan Frittelli (18 year old from Irene Country Club, Gauteng North, and currently on a golf scholarship at the University of Texas), Cameron Johnston (37 year old from Milnerton Golf Club, Western Province) and Jacques Blaauw (22 year old from Paarl Golf Club, Boland).

“If we can get off to a good start there is no reason why we should not finish in the top ten,” said Blaauw prior to his departure last week. “The world’s best amateurs are teeing up in this competition. I believe we have a good team and can take on countries like Australia, US and even New Zealand who has the No. 1 ranked amateur on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Danny Lee.”

“Frittelli has been very consistent this year finishing regularly in top ten positions. Having recorded a win in Canada recently has further elevated his status as the number one ranked player on the SAGA’s Player Rankings,” said Hassen.

Speaking from Australia this morning Hassen explained that the two golf courses are very different. “Royal Adelaide is the tougher of the two, it is a links with fast hard greens, par will be a good score here,” he said. “Grange is more of a parklands course, more forgiving where scoring will be a bit easier.”

According to the team captain the weather forecasts predict wind which will be a great leveller. “This will suit us as both Johnston and Blaauw are good players under these conditions,” said Hassen. “The weather here is very much like Cape Town.”

In 1998 Trevor Immelman, Jean Hugo, Dean Lambert and Henk Alberts represented South Africa, recording the country’s best finish in this competition since being readmitted in 1994. The event was played in Santiago, Chile. Hugo was the best performing player, finishing his 72 holes on 291. “In those days there were four players in a team, the best three scores counted,” explained Hassen. The current format was introduced in 2002.

Today sees teams conclude their final practice rounds after which there will be an opening ceremony. The golf starts in earnest tomorrow with the South Africans playing the Grange Golf Club West Course. Frittelli is first off amongst the South Africans, at 12h51 local time (approximately 8 hours ahead of South African time), with Johnston and Blaauw following in 11 minute intervals respectively. South Africa is paired with players from India and Bermuda, in the first round.

On Friday, the second round starts at 08h36 for the South Africans, this time at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club. They are paired with players from China and Puerto Rico.

“We could not have asked for a better draw,” enthused Hassen. “Friday a hot day has been forecast and we have an early morning tee off time.”

The draw for the last two rounds is a seeded draw based on the team’s scores.

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