National pride will take precedence when South Africa’s Martin Vorster and three debutants tee off in the 11th Reply Italian International Under-16 Championship in September.
Vorster from Southern Cape returns for duty alongside newcomers Ayden Senger from Western Province, Yurav Premlall from Ekurhuleni and North West junior Andre van Dyk.
The quartet leave for Italy on Friday with GolfRSA Golf Operations Manager Eden Thompson and Theo Bezuidenhout, the GolfRSA National Squad sport psychologist.
The SA juniors will challenge for the Teodoro Soldati Trophy in the 72-hole Individual Competition at Golf Club Biella le Betulle from 5-7 September.
‘We will also be nominating three players to compete in the 36-hole Nation’s Trophy team event, which is played concurrently with the first two rounds of the stroke play championship,’ Thompson said.
‘International competitive experience is vital to advance and develop the skills of our junior golfers, and we are extremely pleased to take these four top talents to this highly-rated junior international championship.
‘The Italian International Under-16 Championship counts towards the R&A World Amateur Rankings, and annually draws the top Under-16 amateurs from around the world. This year, the organisers received a record of 191 entries from 19 countries. The chance to compete in this championship is a wonderful opportunity for our juniors and they are extremely excited about the challenge ahead.’
The field of 144 will include top representation from the host nation, South Africa, England, Scotland, Ireland, Korea, Estonia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Morocco and the Scandinavian nations Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark.
The SA juniors will have to pull out all the stops to equal or better the record-setting performance of last year’s quartet.
Jayden Schaper, Wilco Nienaber, Christo Lamprecht and Vorster produced the country’s best collective performance when all four players posted top-10 finishes in 2016. Lamprecht, Schaper and Nienaber also secured a third-place finish for South Africa in the Nation’s Cup.
‘South Africa has been campaigning in the Reply Italian International Championship since it launched in 2006 and last year was the first time that all four juniors finished in the top 10,’ said Thompson.
‘It’s certainly a good goal for this year’s representatives. However, our focus has never been results-driven. The aim is to give these emerging stars the opportunity to experience the international stage in a highly competitive field and at a top-rated international golf course.
‘Testing themselves against the cream of world U16 golf offers them the chance to access their own games and determine which aspects they need to improve on, be it ball striking, course management or the mental side of the game.
‘All four players performed exceptionally well here at home this season, but this will be a stern test for them and we look forward to see how they measure up against the top players from Europe.’
Picture of Vorster courtesy of Shaun Roy/Image SA