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Introducing GolfRSA National Squad player Wilco Nienaber

10 Jun 2017

Wilco Nienaber is goal driven. He set himself a rather stiff target for 2017 – to win five national tournaments, to represent South Africa abroad and to earn U-19 national colours.

Six months into the 2017 season, the Bloemfontein spitfire has racked up trophy finishes in the Nomads National Order of Merit Inland, the Nomads North and South Championship, the Northern Cape Open and the Curro SA Juniors International.

With four of his five titles ticked, plus a second Global Junior Golf Tour victory in the RB German Junior Masters, the 17-year-old’s star is definitely on the rise.

Nienaber has rocketed to third in the South African Golf Association Junior Rankings and one gets the feeling he is only getting started. We chatted to Wilco after his victory in Germany to find out just what makes this Bloemfontein Spitfire tick.

FULL NAME
Willem Jacobus Nienaber (Wilco)

BORN
7 April 2000

RESIDENCE
Bloemfontein

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Winning the Nomads SA Boys U-15 Championship in Rustenburg made me realise that I am good enough to win tournaments
Being a member of the junior Protea team that went to Italy during 2015 and 2016
My Open Amateur breakthrough at the Northern Cape Open in 2017
Achieving a Global Junior Golf Tour double with wins in the Curro SA Juniors International and the RB German Junior Masters in 2017

TELL US FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW
I like playing Play Station with friends (Some games scare me if I play alone).
I can’t go long without any kind of ball in my hand because I enjoy all sports.
I like to hibernate in the off season.
I’m terrified of snakes and big spiders.
I don’t like being alone.

STILL ON MY BUCKET LIST
I still want to watch an El Classico, Wimbledon, ice hockey and American football.
I want to jump out of a plane with a parachute.
I would like to go shark diving.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO GOLF?
It all started with an egg lifter. I use to hit anything around the house with the egg lifter. My driving range was my mom’s hair salon, where I used a brush to hit the curlers down the passage. When I realised what my legs are for, I started chipping in the garden with my dad. My dad use to be a good golfer and that is where my passion started.

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS AND WHY?
In golf it is Henrik Stenson and in life it is my Dad. Henrik Stenson looks so content on the golf course and he has a good sense of humour. My dad Willem taught me everything I know and shows me everyday what hard work is. He also shows me what a good parent and person should be like. He always supports me through the good and bad. I would like to be like him when I grow up.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS OF YOUR GAME?
Strengths: One of my biggest strengths is to hit the ball far without hitting it hard. I manage myself good around the greens and make a lot of putts. When it is going bad my mental toughness helps me to recover.
Weaknesses: The biggest weakness of my game was my pitching, but I changed my technique and practised a lot so that I can chip with confidence. It can still get better.

WHAT ARE YOUR BEST AND WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCES?
My best experience was the first time I represented South Africa in Italy. It showed me what I really want to conquer one day and how a team should be.
My worst experience was just after the Nomads SA Boys U-15 at Fish River. That night on our way to Durban for the next tournament, we drove through the Transkei. At sunset, we hit a sheep and later that night it started raining. The road had no lights and was covered in water and that is why we didn’t see the bridge we were approaching. We hit a big puddle of water that caused us to go off the road. My dad said he didn’t touch the steering wheel; God’s grace steered the car back on the road.

TOURNAMENT OR MAJOR YOU WOULD MOST LIKE TO WIN?
The British Open at The Old Course, where golf started. I’ve played there before so it would be nice to accomplish what my dream was then and still is now.

WHAT SONG WOULD THEY PLAY FOR YOU AT THE FIRST TEE?
This is war by 30 seconds to Mars.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE HOME-COOKED MEAL?
A nice tender steak and chips.

THREE MUST-HAVE ITEMS IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND?
Family or friends, because I hate being alone.
A huge speaker for a good vibe.
A pitching wedge (I’m sure I will find golf balls because a lot of people hit theirs in the sea).

DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD
Content.

WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE EVER EATEN?
I will never eat a pigeon again.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP?
A doctor, because of my mom’s cancer. I thought that I could save her the costs one day.

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK FOR IF YOU WERE GRANTED THREE WISHES?
To be healthy for the rest of my life.
To be happy with my choices I make.
Everyone living to the fullest.

TWO THINGS YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT?
Sports and fixing awkward moments between friends.

WHO WOULD BE IN YOUR DREAM PAIRING?
My dad, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods and myself.

AND IN YOUR FANTASY FOURBALL?
Jason Statham, Christiano Ronaldo, Henrik Stenson and myself.

WHICH ACTOR WOULD YOU PICK TO PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
Jason Statham. He is my favourite actor and he always comes out at the top.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
Not living life to my full potential.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CLUB?
Gap wedge. I can hit every shot with it.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNGSTERS JUST STARTING THE GAME?
Once you know what you want to achieve, you should do everything that you can to achieve your dream by working hard, trusting yourself and having a lot of support. Choose your friends wisely, so you can encourage each other to reach your dreams. Have faith. 

Introducing GolfRSA

The South African Golf Association and Womens Golf South Africa have joined forces to form GolfRSA, a new unified company that will professionally administer the commercial interests and golf operations of amateur golf in South Africa.

Look out for the new GolfRSA website coming soon.

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