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SA claims 15th consecutive All-Africa Junior Champs

02 May 2013

The victorious SA team after claiming the 15th consecutive All-Africa Junior Golf Championship victory in Mauritius; credit Jean-Michel Hau

Four of South Africa’s top junior golfers delivered an impressive performance at Le Touessrok in Mauritius to claim the country’s 15th consecutive victory in the All-Africa Junior Golf Championships on Thursday.

On a squally day on the picturesque Ile Aux Cerfs Island, the defending champions claimed a 58 shot victory over Zimbabwe in the 19th edition of the prestigious junior team championship after combining for a final round 11-over-par 227 to finish on a winning total of 20-over-par 884.

Thriston Lawrence, Jason Froneman, Tristen Strydom and James du Preez opened with a 14-over-par 230 at the tough Bernard Langer-designed championship layout to claim the driver’s seat in the first round. The SA quartet then added a second round even-par 216 and a third round five-under-par 211 to take a 54 shot lead over Zimbabwe into the final round.

The side had hoped to better the all-time high winning margin of 80, but their plans took a nose dive when the brutal South-Easterly wind showed up in the final round, blowing at 60km per hour and turning an already tough track into a real test of skill and patience.

After two frustrating rounds on the greens, Ekurhuleni’s Jason Froneman got the short stick going again. The Kempton Park golfer holed long one for birdie at the sixth to erase an earlier bogey and turned in level par just when the wind really turned up the volume.

Last year Froneman won the 2012 Glacier Junior Series Final in very similar conditions at Hermanus Golf Club last year. Not surprisingly, the 17-year-old only dropped shots at the two most exposed holes - the par-five 11th and par-three 13th – on his way to a solid 74.

Playing behind Froneman, Gauteng North duo Tristen Strydom and James du Preez produced the two other counting scores.

Strydom, one-over through the turn, made a double at the 11th, had to reload at the 13th and found the hazard at the final hole with his approach. He paid the price of his wayward second with a double bogey to finish on 75.

Du Preez was one-under through nine holes, but dropped five shots at the first three holes after the turn and signed off on a 78.

Mpumalanga’s Thriston Lawrence also fell foul of the strong wind on the back nine.

The 16-year-old turned in level par, but dropped a shot at the 10th, made nine at the par-five 11th after a lost ball and endured two more double bogeys on the home stretch before a three-putt for bogey at the final hole for a non-counting 81.

His final round notwithstanding, the Nelspruit golfer still topped the Individual Gross leaderboard after producing a second round 70 and course record 67 in the third round, winning by two shots from Froneman and Strydom.

The four teenagers were absolutely delighted with the victory, which also guarantees them a spot in the field for the Toyota World Junior Golf Team Championships.

“We made a deal before we started the first round that we would play for each other and that there would be no individual performances this week,” said reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Lawrence. “I think that was key to our success here. If one of us was struggling, the rest picked up the slack and we supported each other.

Coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen agreed. “They were all champions this week,” he said. “They played as a team and for each other. They are such a talented group of players and I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie on and off the course and the spirit with which they supported each other.”

FINAL ROUND LEADERBOARD

657 South Africa 230-216-211

711 Zimbabwe 240-238-233

721 Uganda 244-231-246

728 Tunisia 248-253-227

730 Zambia 244-244-242

735 Kenya 252-246-237

736 Reunion 248-244-244

747 Namibia 243-257-247

755 Swaziland 267-247-241

777 Botswana 261-250-266

779 Mauritius 269-263-247

878 Madagascar 293-294- 291

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