Four of South Africa’s top junior golfers will represent the country at the 10th Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship at Golf Club Biella at the end of August.
The SA Golf Association (SAGA) named Wilco Nienaber from the Free State, Christo Lamprecht and Martin Vorster from Southern Cape, and Ekurhuleni’s Jayden Schaper to fly the South African flag in the prestigious international championship from August 30 to September 1.
SAGA golf integration manager Eden Thompson will accompany the quartet, who will participate in the individual 72-hole competition and the 36-hole Nation’s Trophy team event, which is played concurrently with the first two rounds of the stroke play championship.
In addition to lifting the Dimension Data Junior Open title on the Sunshine Tour Junior series at Fancourt this July, Lamprecht also claimed a trio of runner-up finishes on the junior circuit and the Oubaai golfer spearheads the current SAGA Boys U-17 rankings.
Schaper won the Nomads SA Boys U-15 Championship in January. The Ebotse golfer notched back-to-back victories in the Nomads Inland National Order of Merit event at Modderfontein and the Tshwane Junior Open to move to third in the standings in July.
Nienaber claimed the Nomads SA Boys U-17 title at Kingswood earlier this month. The Bloemfontein golfer is ranked fifth in the current standings, one spot ahead of Vorster from Pinnacle Point, whose season highlights include a tie for sixth in the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play Championship and joint fourth in the Nomads SA Boys U-17 Championship.
Thompson believes the four juniors will benefit greatly from the international exposure at the Italian International U-16 Championship.
“The Italian International Under-16 Championship not only counts towards the R&A World Amateur Rankings, but the tournament annually draws top amateurs from around 20 countries,” he said.
“To have that kind of exposure is unmeasurable in terms of their careers and experience. It is a terrific opportunity for the players to measure themselves against top international opponents and to play at one of the top ranked courses in Italy.
“South Africa has participated in the championship since its inception in 2007 and a number of amateurs have performed admirably in this event, including reigning Joburg Open champion Haydn Porteous, who won the Individual Stroke Play title in 2008. Experience at international level is absolutely invaluable and we are delighted to give these four juniors the chance to participate in this prestigious event.”
The ninth Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship drew 132 top junior golfers from 23 countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Czech Republic, England, France, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey and Wales.
Thompson said the juniors are looking forward to the challenge.
“The juniors know that international competitive experience is crucial to developing and advancing their games and they relish the opportunity to go up against the best juniors in Europe,” he said.
“To play in this championship is a wonderful opportunity for the juniors to represent South Africa at Under-16 level, not only as individuals but also a team. 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.”
SA TOP 10 INDIVIDUAL STROKE PLAY RECORD
2007 Yubin Yung T3; JG Claassens T6
2008 Haydn Porteous 1st
2009 Haydn Porteous 6th
2010 Haydn Porteous T3; Shayne Allen T7
2011 Tristen Strydom T2; Dylan Raubenheimer T4
2013 Kyle McClatchie T3; Keegan de Lange T6
2015 Herman Loubser 4th; Luke Mayo T7; Luca Filippi T7