Top SA amateurs named for Spirit International
Four of South Africa’s leading amateurs will be hunting for success at this year’s Spirit International, which tees off at the esteemed Whispering Pines near Trinity in Texas from 30 October to 2 November.
The South African Golf Association’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Louis Taylor will compete for the country’s first success in in this prestigious biennial tournament alongside Womens Golf South Africa’s Kim Williams and Lara Weinstein.
The Spirit International was established in 2001 and it alternates with the equally prestigious World Amateur Team Championship.
The team will compete in five competitions that run concurrently over the 72-holes of best ball competition, including the International Team event that combines the best scores of the Mens and Womens teams, as well as Mens Team and Womens Team competitions and Mens and Womens Individual Competitions.
South African Golf Association president Andre Pieterse said the SAGA would love to see the South African team combine to land the country’s first gold in this event, however, the competition is very fierce.
“The Spirit International annually draws approximately 80 participants from 20 countries, representing six continents,” Pieterse explained. “The teams comprised national amateur champions and top ranked players and the standard is incredibly high.
“Haydn Porteous, Ruan du Smidt, Kim and Iliska Verwey played some great golf in 2011 and managed to tie for fifth in the Team competition. Haydn and Ruan also finished fifth in the Mens competition.
“At least half the field will have a national championship on their resume. The competition is going to be very tough, but we are confident we have selected the best possible four candidates for this year’s Spirit.
“They have all enjoyed a remarkable season and they have the team spirit, aggression and determination required for this type of tournament. We believe that this group will do us proud.”
“At the end of the day, though, the invitation to compete in this prestigious event is a magnificent opportunity for all four players to gain experience on a stacked international stage.”
Bezuidenhout surged to second in the national rankings when he became only the sixth amateur to win both the Stroke Play and Match Play at the Western Province Amateur and has kept his season going with victory at the Limpopo Open and eight other top 10 finishes, including two second places.
Taylor has been equally consistent with six top 10 finishes, including reaching the semi-final of the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship at his home course, Country Club Johannesburg.
Eighteen-year-old Bezuidenhout represented South Africa at the RB German Junior in August, while 23-year-old Taylor made his debut for South Africa at the Ten Nations Trophy in February. Taylor was also a member of the winning side that beat the Scots for the Leopard Creek Trophy and the team that claimed the country’s 13th consecutive Africa Zone VI Golf Championship in Namibia in April.
Williams, who won the Sanlam SA Womens Amateur Championship in July, is ranked second on the WGSA rankings and will be making her third appearance in the event.
Weinstein, ranked third, claimed a top five finish at the RB German Junior in addition to four top three finishes and victory at the GNGU Womens Championship in July.