Van Vuuren fires to Nedbank Junior Challenge victory

1. Reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion Vian Jansen van Vuuren held his nerve to edge Fabrizio de Abreu in a play-off for the coveted Nedbank Junior Challenge at Sun City in April; credit GolfRSA.

26 April 2024 – Vian Jansen van Vuuren was crowned champion of the fourth edition of the Nedbank Junior Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City in April.

The Centurion Country Club teen held his nerve in a tense play-off, the first in the tournament’s history, on the iconic par-five ninth hole as he edged Fabrizio De Abreu into second place.

“I’m absolutely stoked with the win,” the 2024 champion said. “This title sits nicely alongside the Nomads SA Boys U19 Stroke Play title I won at Benoni Country Club in March. To go back-to-back in GolfRSA national junior events is tough to do. And to do it on the toughest course I’ve ever played, really makes this all the sweeter.

“I look forward to returning to Sun City later this year to attend the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Next to winning here this week, it will definitely be one of my greatest career highlights.”

Jansen van Vuuren, who opened with a 74, began the day with a one-shot lead following a solid showing in round two where he racked up an impressive eight birdies en route to a 68.

In fact, round two was a sign of things to come for the two contenders as De Abreu, a current member of the GolfRSA National Squad, matched that number with a 68 of his own and put the Woodhill junior in the frame for what has become one of the biggest trophies on offer in the amateur scene.

Wednesday though was a far tenser occasion as both Jansen van Vuuren and Fabrizio De Abreu had the chance to win the event in regulation.

Having birdied the ninth and 10th to edge clear, a string of pars on the back nine kept Jansen Van Vuuren ahead of the chasing pack, but he dropped back to the field with a double and a bogey over the last two holes to close with a 74.

2. Head-to-Head: Vian Jansen van Vuuren and Fabrizio de Abreu duelled for Nedbank Junior Challenge in a play-off after both players finished on level par in regulation play at the Gary Player Country Club, credit GolfRSA

For De Abreu, one of the pre-tournament favourites, it was a case of what might’ve been after a good birdie on 14 was backed up with a birdie on the penultimate hole in the closing round. A dropped shot at the last saw him sign for a 73 (75 68 73) and the 2024 Nedbank Junior Challenge went to extra holes.

It was Jansen van Vuuren who managed to save par despite hitting his approach long and needing a penalty drop as the action intensified. The par was enough as De Abreu eventually three-putted to fall from contention.

“The first 18 was probably the toughest,” said the champion Jansen van Vuuren.

He was under no illusions of just how tough the Gary Player Country Club can play especially the back nine.

“The course was laid out so difficult. Tee boxes were pushed way back and the pins were in tough spots. The course is pretty tight anyway, so you just need to stay in a fairway. That stretch from 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; that stretch is very difficult. Sometimes you just have to play for par. That’s all you can really do on those holes.”

Speaking about the tense play-off and his keeping his emotions in check after finding the water, Jansen van Vuuren added: “I tried to be calm and just find the green with the next shot and see if I could make the putt. “I’m very stoked. Back-to-back wins on this circuit is a great achievement. Right now, bit speechless but very happy with how it all turned out.”

This title will sit nicely alongside the 2024 Nomads SA Boys U19 Stroke Play Qualifier that Jansen van Vuuren won at Benoni Country Club earlier in the year.

Jansen van Vuuren will take with him the confidence of beating the select field at Sun City which included the nation’s finest junior amateur golfers and promising prospects of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB).

Not only does he now boast an impressive CV but he will leave Gary Player Country Club with a return ticket to the upcoming Nedbank Golf Challenge, an event synonymous with golfing greatness, as well as valuable GolfRSA and World Amateur Golf Ranking points.

Daniel Bennett finished in solo third position a stroke back (70 76 72) with Franco Roos fourth alone on 219 (75 73 71) for his three rounds at the iconic layout.

Josh Daniels, the boys winner of the 2024 Global Junior Golf Tour’s SA Juniors International, led the 19-strong South African Golf Development Board challenge. The Western Province junior followed an opening 77 with successive rounds of 72 to tie for eighth on five-over-par 221.

RESULT (top 10)
216 Vian Jansen van Vuuren 74 68 74 (play-off)
216 Fabrizio de Abreu 75 68 73

218 Dan Bennett 70 76 72

219 Franco Roos 75 73 71

220 Bryan Newman 72 72 76; Liam McKenna 78 74 68

221 Cilliers Craig 72 75 74; Josh Daniels 77 72 72

222 Wandre Snyman 77 71 74; Dewan de Bruin 77 74 71

2023 Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion Vian Jansen van Vuuren held his nerve to edge Fabrizio de Abreu in a play-off for the coveted Nedbank Junior Challenge at Sun City in April; credit GolfRSA.