Seven of South Africa’s top ranked juniors have arrived at this week’s All Africa Junior Golf Challenge in Zimbabwe in pursuit of spots into the prestigious Toyota Junior Golf World Cup supported by JAL.
The South African Golf Association’s top four ranked boys – reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht, number one ranked Garrick Higgo, Luca Filippi and Jayden Schaper – will attempt to hunt down the country’s 19th consecutive victory in the Boys Competition while GolfRSA Elite Squad members Kajal Mistry and Symone Henriques will partner reigning Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Kaleigh Telfer in the first Girls Competition against eight other African nations at Royal Harare Golf Club from 28 – 31 March.
In 2015, Womens Golf South Africa received an invitation to the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup when the organisers decided to include a Girls Competition.
‘We also received an invitation to compete last year, but this year we will have to qualify via the All Africa Junior Golf Challenge for 2017 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup,’ said Womens Golf South Africa president Karen Olivant.
‘The All Africa Junior Golf Challenge has served as Africa’s official qualifying event for the boys for many years, so Kaleigh, Kajal and Symone have a huge task ahead of them to continue South Africa’s proud history in the other two biennial Africa Championships – the All-Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) and Regional All-Africa Challenge Trophy (RAACT).
‘Last year Kaleigh, Zethu Myeki and Ivanna Samu claimed our 12th victory at the AACT in Tunisia and in 2015, we won the RAACT in Namibia for a fifth successive time, so there is quite a bit of pressure on our team, but we have a lot of faith in this team.
‘Kajal is our number ranked senior and junior and Symone ranks seventh and fourth respectively in the senior and junior rankings. Kajal made her international debut at the eighth Albatross International Junior Golf Championship in India and Symone in the Ciputra Enjoy Jakarta World Junior Golf Championship in Indonesia last year. The All Africa Junior Golf Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for both of them gain more exposure to international competition and the chance to test themselves against the best players from the continent.
‘Kaleigh is no stranger to international competition and has represented South Africa abroad since she made her debut in the Youth Olympics in Nanjing in 2014. Although she is taking up a golf scholarship at Auburn University later this year, she will still be available to represent South Africa. She competed in the Japan in in 2015 and 2016 and we believe Kajal and Symone will benefit greatly from her guidance and experience.’
The Boys Team will need to defeat hosts Zimbabwe, who won the tournament in 1995 and 1998, as well as Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, Reunion Islands, Mauritius, Zambia, Botswana, Uganda and Malawi to guarantee their passage to Japan.
Lamprecht, Higgo, Filippi and Schaper had a very positive test run during the African Amateur Championship at the end of February.
The quartet combined for a runner-up finish in the Team Competition at Leopard Creek, beating eight other teams, including England, the GolfRSA Senior Team, France and Switzerland to finish two shots behind two-time champions Scotland.
Olivant said the decision to host the Girls and Boys Competitions concurrently has proven popular with all the countries.
‘It is always tough to compete abroad and there is especially added pressure to perform in team events,’ she said. ‘We saw how much our girls and boys teams benefited from each other’s support during the last two Junior Golf World Cups. Both teams are eager to qualify for this year’s Junior Golf World Cup and I believe that running the competitions simultaneously will be beneficial for both teams to further motivate and strengthen their resolve to finish at the top.’
The format of both competitions is 72 holes of stoke play with 18 holes played daily, with the three best scores to count to the team’s daily total. The country with the lowest gross score will be crowned the 2017 champions.