Van der Merwe takes third at RB German Junior

Western Province junior Altin van der Merwe took third in his European debut at the prestigious RB German Junior, while Paul Boshoff tied for seventh and fellow juniors Jovan Rebula and Tristen Strydom cracked the top 20 at Golfclub Heddesheim in Gut Neuzenhof on Thursday.

Van der Merwe was disappointed with an opening 75, but Sanlam SA Amateur finalist rebounded with a seven under 65 in the second round and broke into the top four.

The 17-year-old Bellville golfer reeled in two birdies over the front nine and another pair just after the turn to dip four under par. He skidded backwards with bogeys at the 13th, 15th and 16th, but salvaged his round with a birdie at the par-five fifth and par at the par-four 18th for a 70.

A six-under-par 210 total saw Van der Merwe slip into third, a shot shy of Germany’s second-placed Philipp Boegal, and 10 shots behind the champion, Jarand Ekeland from Norway.

Van der Merwe was a member of the South African Golf Association’s junior side that won the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship in Zambia in April and the team that claimed a top 10 finish at the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup in Japan in June.

Between rounds, the four juniors had the chance to explore Gut Neuzenhof and Van der Merwe thoroughly enjoyed his first view of Europe.

“I have had some amazing experiences this season and this week in Germany was another amazing experience,” gushed the delighted Province teenager.

“The town is full of historical sites and old buildings, which was really amazing to see. The hotel and staff and the organisers of the tournament were incredibly nice and efficient and really made the whole experience special.

“The course was beautiful and in great condition, but it is incredibly tough. It was playing pretty slow, but it has a lot of out of bounds areas. If you are not accurate, it costs you big time, like I found out with that quadruple bogey in the first round.

“I hit a good tee shot down the fairway, but we couldn’t find my ball. I reloaded, went out of bounds and ended up making a big number. I’m really proud of the way I came back and kept myself in contention. It was a great week for all of us.”

Meanwhile the country’s number one ranked junior Boshoff also broke into the top 10 of the acclaimed World Junior Golf Tournament Series event with rounds of 74 and 68.

The reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play champion from Ekurhuleni also carded a 70 to secure a share of seventh on four-under-par 212.

Southern Cape’s Jovan Rebula was the only South African outside the top 20 after rounds of 71 and 74, however, the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member also rallied with a 70 in the final round to tie for 17th on one under 215.

And Ekurhuleni’s Strydom closed out a good week for the local juniors in Germany.

The reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion carded rounds of 78, 66 and 72 to tie for 19th on even-par 216.

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

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