SA juniors ready to rumble in Japan

[Monday, June 12, 2017 13:10:35]

South Africa’s Kaleigh Telfer and GolfRSA Elite Squad duo Kajal Mistry and Symone Henriques put the finishing touches on their preparation for the 25th Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan during Monday’s official practice round.

The trio will fly the flag for South Africa in the Girls Competition while GolfRSA National Squad players Christo Lamprecht, Jayden Schaper, Garrick Higgo and Luca Filippi will represent the country in the Boys Competition.

The seven South Africans have joined 80 of the world’s top junior golfers for the spectacular annual showpiece, supported by JAL, in Toyota City.

This year’s field includes 15 national teams – the winners of regional qualifiers that saw more than 65 national teams fight it out for a spot across six continents. The United States is defending in both divisions.

The SA Boys Team qualified by way of South Africa’s 19th All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge victory in Zimbabwe in March. The quartet will face Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand, Zimbabwe, as well as the USA.

The SA Girls team will play the USA, Australia, Colombia, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the Philippines when the championship gets underway at the Chukyo Golf Club’s Ishino Course in Aichi-Prefecture on Tuesday.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the event includes a Girls Competition. South Africa were invited to participate in 2015 and 2016, but had to qualify like all the other countries this year.

“We secured our spot with victory in the All Africa Junior Golf Challenge in Zimbabwe in March and we are thrilled to be back in Japan for a third time,” said Womens Golf South Africa president Sally Greasley.

“It’s also the third time Kaleigh will be playing and her knowledge of the course has been invaluable to Kajal and Symone, who are both making their debut in this event.”

Greasley said the organisers kicked off the event with an inventive icebreaker at a local Junior High School on Saturday.

“The scholars taught the players more about their local sport, which is derived from a mixture of Samurai fighting styles, including fencing and archery,” said Greasley.

“I attended with Eden Thompson from the South African Golf Association, who manages the boys team and sport phycologist Theo Bezuidenhout and we were thoroughly entertained as we watched the players trying to come to grips with the equipment. It was a wonderful way to promote interaction between all the players and to expose them to a new culture.

“We also experienced a few firsts during our first practice round, like golf carts that drive themselves, and travellators that run up the hills to help the pace of play. Our first day at Chukyo Golf Club was capped by a local news crew who film our players during their exercise session.

“On Sunday after the practice round, Kaleigh and Garrick represented South Africa in the Longest Drive Competition. Kaleigh drove it 250 yards and lost by 12 yards to a Columbian and Garrick’s drive of 320 yards was 16 yards short of the German winner.

“So far it’s been a really fantastic experience for everyone. We have all prepared well, shaken the jetlag and all three players are geared to start on Tuesday.”

Under the format, the top three scores count for the team total in the Boys Competition and the top two in the Girls Competition. There is also an Individual Competition in each division.