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Golf | Amateur Golf

Wilco Nienaber © Ernest Blignault

GolfRSA stars ready to rumble on African Swing

South Africa’s top-ranked Wilco Nienaber and a trio of Ekurhuleni juniors – Jayden Schaper, Casey Jarvis and Yurav Premlall – have signalled some serious intent for success on the upcoming Africa Swing this February.

Nienaber shot to No 1 in a breakout season in 2017 and consistent performances at home and abroad have kept the Bloemfontein golfer in pole position in the Open Amateur Rankings.

The Free State golfer launched the 2019 season with a top-five finish in the Free State Open and produced a masterclass of golf at Silver Lakes Golf Estate to lift the Gauteng North Open title last month. Nienaber found an extra gear after 35 holes and fired three eagles and 11 birdies over the last 27 holes to triumph by three shots on 16-under 200.

“It was great to hit some winning form before the start of the African Swing,” said the 18-year-old GolfRSA National Squad member. “Things started to click at the start of the final day. I began striking the ball well, I stuck my irons and wedges close and I putted incredibly well.”

With an impressive contingent of more than 50 top international amateurs arriving in South Africa over the next three days – and a slew of world amateur golf ranking points on offer – Nienaber’s return to form was well-timed.

The three-part Africa Swing tees off with the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at the magnificent Leopard Creek from 11-14 February.

The golfers then travel to King David Mowbray Golf Club for the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship from 19-22 February and finish in the winelands for the SA Stroke Play Championship at De Zalze Golf Club at the end of the month.

Nienaber might be riding a wave of confidence, but fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Schaper, Premlall and Jarvis are in equally hot form.

The trio played a big role in Ekurhuleni’s successful title defence in the SA Under-19 Inter-Provincial at the end of last season and have enjoyed early success this season.

The only junior to have completed the Nomads SA Boys Grand Slam, Schaper, won the second Nomads National Order of Merit (NNOoM) in early January to cement his No 1 spot in the junior rankings.

The Ebotse golfer also won the Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series at ERPM and rose to sixth in the Open Amateur rankings with his season-opening win in the Free State Open.

Premlall notched two junior titles and a first provincial Open Amateur win late last year before he became the youngest amateur to qualify for, and make the cut, in the SA Open Championship at Randpark Golf Club in December.

The 15-year-old Glendower golfer extended the purple patch to win the first NNOoM of the season at Umhlali Country Club.

A week later, he lost the second NNOoM at Benoni Country Club to Schaper, but the Glendower junior beat Jarvis for his first Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series title at State Mines.

Jarvis, who won the Nomads SA Boys Under-15 and Under-17 Championships last year, had a delayed start to his 2019 season after incurring an intercostal muscle injury before the first event, but clinched a runner-up finish in his second start at the Gauteng North Open.

This week, Jarvis made SA golfing history as the youngest winner on the IGT Challenge Tour.

At 15 years, seven months and 22 days, Jarvis bettered the previous mark set by European Tour campaigner and former No 1 ranked amateur Zander Lombard by almost two years when he upstaged a field littered with professionals to win the fourth Race to Q-School with rounds of 66, 70 and 65 at State Mines Country Club.

Meanwhile, Nienaber and Schaper will also be competing for South Africa in the team competition during the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

Nienaber and fellow GolfRSA national squad members Deon Germishuys, Therion Nel and Luca Filippi will target a first win for the GolfRSA Seniors in the annual 36-hole team competition, while Schaper will join forces with Christo Lamprecht, Martin Vorster and new cap Sam Simpson to defend the GolfRSA Juniors title.

The GolfRSA teams and teams from England, France, Germany, India, Mauritius, Reunion, Scotland and Sweden will face off over the first two rounds of the 72-hole stroke play championship at Leopard Creek.


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