Top SA juniors named for French Test

Six of the country’s top junior golfers will represent South Africa in a two-day Test against a French team from 27 to 28 January.

The South African Golf Association (SAGA) named Herman Loubser from Boland, Southern Cape’s Jovan Rebula, Marco Steyn and Dylan Naidoo from Central Gauteng, as well as Keegan de Lange and JP Cooper from Gauteng North to face the French at St Francis Links.

“Last year, we fielded a team of four players that beat the French at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate,” said SAGA Golf Integration Manager, Eden Thompson.

“The French Golf Union requested that we increase the teams to six players this year. Naturally, we were absolutely delighted to meet their request, because this offers us the opportunity to give six of our top juniors the chance to gain experience against top international amateurs.”

Loubser and his family relocated from the Isle of Man in December 2013 and the 15-year-old claimed hit the ground running. He won the Nomads SA Boys U-15 title at the Fish River Sun Country Club in his first start and claimed five top four finishes in six starts on the Junior Circuit, including a tie for second in the SA Boys Under-17 Championship.

The country’s number two ranked junior was equally imposing on the Open Amateur Circuit with five top 10 finishes.

Rebula shot to prominence when he lifted Nomads SA Boys U-17 Championship title in 2013.

The Southern Cape golfer kicked off the 2014 season with victory in the Nomads Coastal National Order of Merit at Royal Durban, added the Proudfoot Trophy as the winner of the Stroke Play Qualifier for the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship in February and claimed the Curro SA World International at Langebaan Golf Club in March.

Rebula partnered Hennie du Plessis, Kyle McClatchie and Altin van der Merwe in the first Test against France.

The four players won the Test, then chased down South Africa’s 16th consecutive title in the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship in Zambia, where Rebula topped the individual standings.

The quartet also claimed a top five finish in the Toyota Junior World Cup in Japan, with Rebula once again leading the challenge.

Reigning Nomads SA Boys U-17 champion Naidoo and Steyn both impressed in the Challenge Cup Teams Tournament, the Louis Oosthuizen SA Junior Club Teams Championship and the SA Under-19 Inter-Provincial.

Naidoo claimed an impressive top 10 finish in the US Kids Golf Teen World Championship at the prestigious Pinehurst Golf Resort, while Steyn claimed victories in the ProShop Gauteng North Stroke Play, the North and South Championship and the Nomads National Order of Merit Championship.

De Lange, a Nomads National Order of Merit winner in 2013, had two close calls in 2014 and converted the runner up finishes with a three-shot victory in the season-opening Dr Bam Nomads National Order of Merit at Pollak Park Golf Club earlier this month.

Fellow Pretoria golfer Cooper has quietly worked his way to the number six spot in the Junior Amateur rankings over the past year.

The 17-year-old Wingate Park player finished second to Rebula at Royal Durban and kept his ascendancy on track with a tie for sixth in the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play Championship.

He also downed fellow Gauteng North golfers Rosswell Sinclair and De Lange to reach the Match Play semi-finals.

Cooper took fifth in the Nomads SA Boys U-17 Championship and had top 15 finishes in the North and South Championship and the Nomads Order of Merit Inland tournament at Silver Lakes.

In early October, Cooper and Loubser represented South Africa in the Boys U-14-17 category in the Minsheng Beijing Junior Open at the Tian’ An Golf Club in Beijing, China where Loubser tied for eighth and Cooper claimed a share of 12th.

The Boland golfer and Naidoo also flew the flag for South Africa in the eighth Italian International Under-16 Championship at Golf Club Biella in Italy.

SAGA president Gerhard Conradie welcomed the increase in team numbers this year.

“We appreciate any opportunity for our juniors to challenge at international level, because competitive experience is crucial to their development,” Conradie said.

“The Test represents a great opportunity for the juniors to come together as a team for South Africa, but still gain experience at individual level. They are all very excited about the challenge ahead and we look forward to see how they measure up against the top players from Europe.”

Gauteng North’s Junior Player of the Year Rosswell Sinclair has been named the non-travelling reserve.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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