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Lawrence poised for four-event swing

20 Mar 2013

Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence will be challenging in the three National Nomad Order of Merit events leading up to his title defence in the SA Boys U-19 Match Play at Benoni Country Club from 4-6 April; credit Dale Boyce

South Africa’s number one junior Thriston Lawrence hopes to extend his current purple patch in three upcoming Nomads National of Order events from 21 – 27 March, before challenging for the elusive double in the SA Boys U-19 Championship at Benoni Country Club in April.

Lawrence began his winning run with a play-off victory in the first Nomads National Order of Merit (NOoM) junior event at Mowbray Golf Club in January, where he held off other top ranked players, Jovan Rebula and Jack Duthie, for the first title of the season.

The following week he tied for third in the Prince’s Grant Invitational, where he finished five shots off the pace from the winner and SA number one amateur, Haydn Porteous. He followed with a tie for sixth in the KwaZulu-Natal Open a week later and picked up a share of 10th in the SA Stroke Play in February.

Just a fortnight ago, Lawrence broke a 26-year-old record to become the youngest champion of the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship in the 106 year history of the event at Country Club Johannesburg.

He currently tops the SA Junior ranking and ranks sixth in the South African Golf Association Open Amateur rankings.

Given his blistering form this season,  the Mpumalanga golfer is certainly a player to watch when the four-tournament swing kicks off with the Dr Bam (NOoM) tournament at Pollak Park from 21-22 March. The Nomads (NOoM) Inland 2 tournament follows at Kempton Park from 23-24 March, while Lake Club Benoni will host the Nomads-sponsored North and South Junior Stroke Play from 26-27, before the action moves to Benoni Country Club for the SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play and Match Play.

Although Lawrence gained a lot of confidence from his victory at the SA Amateur, he expects the country’s other top ranked players to put up serious resistance.

“I think Jason Froneman is going to be a serious threat,” he said. “He has had top 20 finishes in his first three tournaments on the Open Amateur circuit and broke through for his first win at the Free State & Northern Cape Open. Jason also knows all these courses well.

“Zander Gouws, Tristen Strydom and Jovan Rebula are all serious competitors and James du Preez, currently ranked second on the SA Junior rankings, will join the action in the North & South and the SA Boys. I’ve played against and with all these guys this year and they are all tough to beat.

“I expect tough opposition, but that is what makes these tournaments so great. I thrive on competition and so do they, and I think that is what will make the next two weeks very exciting.”

Lawrence won the SA Boys U-19 Match Play last year, but winning the double is a serious goal.

“I was a little disappointed in my performance in the Stroke Play at Katberg,” the teenager said. “I was in a strong position to challenge for the win with rounds of 72, 71 and 71, but I let myself down with a 74 in the final round.

“I’d love to be able to win both the Stroke and Match Play titles. To win it in one season would be incredible. I’ll have to work incredibly hard to achieve that, because no-one is going to hand it over easily. I’m definitely going to give it my best shot, even if I know it’s going to be tough to achieve.”

The first three events are all 54-hole stroke play tournaments, but the format for the SA U-19 Boys will be stroke play, followed by the match play.

The 72-holes stroke play section will consist of two 18-hole rounds, followed by a cut to the top 65 and a 36-hole final day. Only the top 32 players from the stroke play will qualify for the match play from 4-6 April.

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