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A quick 18 with Therion Nel

18 Nov 2017

Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Therion Nel from Free State; credit Ernest Blignault.

After a sluggish start to 2017, Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation rising star Therion Nel rode the momentum of a runner-up finish in the Northern Cape Open to a superb run of top five and top 10 finishes to break into the top 10 of the South African Golf Association Open Amateur Rankings.

He came dangerously close to a breakthrough victory in the Mpumalanga Open and further top 10s in The Bobby Locke and Central Gauteng Open is a sure-fire sign that this Bloemfontein golfer is building up to a sensational season next year.

We caught up with Nel after he was named The Most Valued Player in the B-Division after Free State’s memorable victory in the 2017 South African Inter-Provincial Championship, and found out that this fierce Blue Bull supporter is a self-admitted Arachnophobic with a penchant to go sky diving and to travel the world.

FULL NAME
Nicolaas Therion Nel

DATE OF BIRTH
17 November 1997

BORN
Pretoria

RESIDENCE
Bloemfontein

GOLF CLUB
Bloemfontein Golf Club

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Being asked to join the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.
Victories in the 2015 Under-19 SA Inter-Provincial B-Division at Worcester Golf Club and the 2016 SA Challenge Cup, representing the SAGA Juniors.
Victory in the premier SA Inter-Provincial Championship and being named Most Valued Player in the B-Division after amassing 11.5 points out of a possible 12 points for Free State.
Being the number one ranked golfer in the Free State for the past two years.
Breaking into the top 10 on the SAGA Open Amateur Rankings

TELL US FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW
I don’t need to be surrounded by a lot of people to have fun, I can keep myself busy and I really enjoy my alone time.
I am quite a bookworm as I really enjoy reading and I have been called a nerd numerous times by some of my close friends.
I enjoy listening to ‘old school’ music like Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.
I was born in Pretoria and I am still a Blue Bull supporter even though I am in ‘Cheetah Country’.
I was a fairly good scholar. I went to Grey College in Bloemfontein from Grade 1 to Grade 12. I finished school with an average of almost 80% and got 3 distinctions.

STILL ON THE BUCKET LIST
Still on my bucket list is to go skydiving. A couple of my friends have done it and it will be an amazing experience.
I would also like to travel the world.

 

TELL US ABOUT THE START OF YOUR GOLFING CAREER
All I can remember is hitting golf balls against the wall in our back yard with plastic golf clubs.
It started with me just barely reaching the wall to hitting the balls into the neighbour’s back yard. My Dad saw this and since we lived on the Silver Lakes Golf Estate, my Dad took me to the driving range for the first time when I was three years old.
By that time the golfing bug had bitten and I was hooked! I played my first ever golf tournament at Redding Golf Club when I was seven. It was a SA Little Kids event and I made a birdie on the first hole!!

DO YOU SET YOURSELF GOALS AND WHAT DID YOU HOPE FOR IN 2017?
I definitely set goals for myself because that is the best way to keep track of your progress and remind yourself what you are working for. My goals for this year was to keep my number one status in the Free State, to reach the top 10 in the SAGA Open Amateur Rankings and I really wanted to represent my country. I haven’t achieved this yet. I also wanted to achieve a 72 stroke average for all rounds played, which I achieved.

WHO DO YOU WORK WITH AND WHO IS YOUR SUPPORT TEAM?
I am a member of the Free State Elite Squad, which works with the Quintin Williams Golf Academy at Bloemfontein Golf Club.  The head coach is Quintin Williams and the assistant coach is Terence Salo.
I am supported by the Free State Sport Confederation and the Free State Sports and Science Institute (FSSSI). I am also very blessed to be a Member of the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS AND WHY?
My role model has always been my dad. He is an amazing father and despite his busy schedule, he always finds a way to put family first. He is an excellent role model and I have learned so much from him – from his work ethic to his values, as well as his ability to make important decisions without hesitation.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS OF YOUR GAME?
I would say my strength in my game is definitely my ability to keep calm when I am not having the best day on the course. I never really get angry and I can handle my emotions very. My weakness in my game is that sometimes I play it too safe. Sometimes I hesitate to go for the more aggressive shot, knowing that I can pull it off. Instead I’ll play it safe. It’s not a bad thing, but to win tournaments risks have to be taken.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BEST AND WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCES?
The best experience was when we travelled to the USA in 2008. I played in the Little Pepsi tournament and we went to Disney World in Orlando for the first time.
My worst experience must be when we travelled to Cape Town to play in the Under-12 SA National event at Clovelly. I played cricket for Free State in Kroonstad and we travelled during the night to make my tee-off time the next day at Clovelly. I was sick with gastro and could not withdraw because it was a team event.

TOURNAMENT OR MAJOR YOU WOULD MOST LIKE TO WIN AND WHY?
The tournament that I would love to win is the Masters at Augusta. All the Majors are special, but that is one Green jacket that I want badly! It is one of the most elite tournaments in the world where only the top golfers in the world get an invitation. My Dad and I have a special bet going on the Masters.

WHAT SONG WOULD THEY PLAY FOR YOU AT THE FIRST TEE?
”Have you ever seen the rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE HOME-COOKED MEAL?
Definitely my mother’s Spaghetti Bolognaise.

THREE MUST-HAVE ITEMS IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND WHY?
Hammock
Newest PlayStation with all the latest games for the lonely times.
Lob wedge to practice and a Coke Machine when I am thirsty.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD
Consistent.

WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE EVER EATEN?
Liver.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP?
I have always wanted to be a professional golfer.

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK FOR IF YOU WERE GRANTED THREE WISHES?
Speak and understand different languages, especially French.
BMW M4 Sport
PGA Tour Card.

TWO THINGS YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT
I am a Braai Master
PlayStation and all sports

WHO WOULD BE IN YOUR DREAM PAIRING?
My dream pairing would be myself, my dad, Tiger Woods and Samuel L Jackson.

AND IN YOUR FANTASY FOURBALL?
My fantasy fourball would be Arnold Palmer, Walter Haigen, Bobby Jones and me.

WHICH ACTOR WOULD YOU PICK TO PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE & WHY?
Ryan Reynolds because he is my favourite actor, he is very entertaining and one of the funniest actors. I’m told he also looks a little bit like me.

BIGGEST FEAR?
I am very scared of spiders. My worst nightmare is being covered in spiders or being locked in a room with a big spider.

IF YOU GOT STUCK IN A LIFT FOR FIVE HOURS, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE FOR COMPANY?
I would love to get stuck with Will Smith.  We can then talk about golf, aliens and Area 51.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CLUB AND WHY?
My go-to club has to be my 3-wood. Any day I struggle with my driver, I have no problem taking the 3-wood off the tee.  It just feels like I can’t miss and that is why it is my go-to club.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNGSTERS JUST STARTING THE GAME?
I would say that golf is an amazing game and that they should always try and enjoy it when they play, but that they must work very hard to succeed.  Youngsters should never be too serious on the golf course. There are obviously times that you should be serious and focus, but never forget to have fun while playing. Golf also has a funny way of teaching you valuable life lessons. 

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