JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas, wilting badly, our footballers struggling to win and South African franchises playing no further part in this year’s Super Rugby competition. To put it mildly, it hasn’t been easy for our sports teams these past few weeks.
So spare a thought for four of our young sportsmen who last week brought some relief by putting the finishing touches to a record romp - a quite amazing display - on their way to winning the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan.
With three out of four scores to count each day Martin Vorster, Christo Lamprecht, Sam Simpson and Casey Jarvis blitzed their way to 41-under-par through 72 holes - a tournament record aggregate of 811 - to finish 11 shots ahead of runners-up Japan and 12 ahead of third-placed Spain. Powerhouse Team USA were fourth, a full 19 shots back of Team SA.
Simpson and Vorster finished first and second in the individual standings, Simpson going 70-65-63-68 for 18-under 266 at par-71 Chukyo Golf Club, and Vorster 71-66-65-68 for 270. Truly fantastic golf.
#GolfRSANationalSquadTour2019— GolfRSA (@GolfRSA) June 9, 2019
Martin Vorster lags it to tap-in for a birdie finish at @TheHomeofGolf .
The @GolfRSA National Squad member seals a T-7 finish on 11-under 277 in the #LinksTrophy with rounds of 68-69-69-71.
Next Stop: #toyotajuniorgolfworldcup 👊@TeamSA18 #Golf pic.twitter.com/QW92si9b30
“We’re extremely proud of them,” said team manager Eden Thompson. “These boys have done very well individually, both internationally and at home. But to put your country’s name up there as a team in the World Cup - this one’s very special for us.”
The title was South Africa’s second in the event’s 27-year history, alongside the 2001 squad that included future Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
South Africa had already rewritten the record book earlier in the week, becoming the first team in a dozen years to break 200 in a day when they combined for a 14-under-par 199 on the Wednesday.
One day later, they went even lower at 19-under.
Simpson noted that Vorster, a product of the Louis Oosthuizen Academy, received a message between rounds from the former Open champion wishing the team good luck. “That was really cool,” he said.
“You get a bit of goosebumps to think that he’s watching the live scoring and rooting for us. It was exciting to close it out for him.
“It’s good to come overseas and play well. Anybody can play well in their home country, but it’s really nice to come and do it overseas.”
Well said, Sam, you guys have done South Africa proud!
In the girls competition, Ekurhuleni pair Kiera Floyd and Caitlyn Macnab both fired final rounds of three-under 69 to help SA break into red figures and finish sixth overall on two-under 574, while 15-year-old Floyd from Ebotse earned herself a top 10 in the individual competition on 287.
In professional golf there were two encouraging showings last week on the fairways of the world. Christiaan Bezuidenhout tied for third in the BMW International Open while on the PGA Champions Tour in America, Retief Goosen got into a play-off for the title on 15-under-par 201 with Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker in the Farmers Insurance Championship. Kelly took the win but “Goose” was delighted with his own performance.
“It was great to be fighting for a title again, knowing I can still be a contender,” he said. “Now I’m looking forward with renewed confidence to the US Senior Open (which starts on Thursday this week).”
A two-time US Open champion, is the US Senior Open now beckoning for the 50-year-old?