South Africa’s Woes Continue At Junior Golf World Cup

South Africa’s campaign at the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan took another knock as the team’s backward slide continued in the third round at Tokyo’s Chukyo Country Club.  The prestigious international championship is turning into a tough school for the 2014 All-Africa Junior Golf Championship winners, who slipped to 13th in the 15-nation field on Thursday.  South Africa was handily placed after a five-under-par 208 in the opening round, but tough pin placements, humid conditions and a tricky layout has taken its toll on the top SA juniors over the last two days.

The team slipped to ninth after a 215 on Wednesday and find themselves in 12th place on two over 641 after a third round 218.  Jovan Rebula has emerged as the team’s top performer at the 54-hole mark.  The Southern Cape golfer followed rounds of 72 and 71 with a 70 and joined team mate, Hennie Du Plessis from Limpopo, in a tie for 17th in the Individual Competition.

“It was Jovan’s lowest score for the week, and he was the only member of the team to dip below par.  Hennie had another tough day over the opening stretch and turned in three over, but he fought hard to complete the back nine in three under for an even-par 71,” said South African Golf Association vice-president, Gerhard Conradie.  Altin Van Der Merwe from Western Province completed the course in 78 strokes, while Ekurhuleni’s Kyle McClatchie battled a cold putter to a non-counting 78.  “Most of the countries in the line-up here this week enjoy regular international competition and they are seasoned travellers.  Our players have struggled with the heat and humidity and they are showing fatigue. It would probably be a good idea to get them to Japan a day earlier next year, so they can adjust properly,” Conradie said.

Conradie said he would like to see the team fight their way back into the top 10 on Friday, but he cautioned that the focus of the trip to Japan was not just about the scores.  “We are a long way off the pace with one round to go.  I have told the boys not to put pressure on themselves to catch the leaders, but to focus on every shot and to take as much as possible away from this experience,” said Conradie.  Venezuela carded a 202 to overtake the United States and leads by three shots on 18 under 621.

Zimbabwe, the silver medallists at the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship, combined for a third round 226 to finish on 32 over 671.  Sweden’s Linnea Strom carded an even-par 72 to move one shot clear of Haruhi Nakao, whose 71 helped Japan to a third round 142 and a five shot lead over the United States in the team competition.

Photo:  Jovan Rebula carded a third round 70 at the 22nd Toyota World Junior Golf Team Championship in Japan.
Photo credit: Dale Boyce