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Royal St George's a test for Gous

12 Sep 2013

Nomads SA Boys U-19 champion Zander Gous in action at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy; credit Paul Severn

Ji Sun Kang held on to the top 10, but Zander Gous is finding out first hand just why the world’s top professionals also struggled to break par during the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, England.

The two South Africans are competing in the 13th edition of the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy , where they have had to deal with a tough course, talented opponents and very windy conditions over the first two days of the prestigious invitation-only 54-hole stroke play event.

Reigning Nomads SA Girls Champion Kang from the Western Province opened with a six-over-par 76 to tie for ninth and joined the four-way tie for eighth on 12-over-par 152 with Roberta Li from Italy, Karina Kukkonen from Finland Denmark’s Alexander Frances with a second 76.

However, reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 champion Gous continued to struggle with the combined challenges of the brutal weather conditions, the springy turf, monstrous bunkers and savage rough and slipped to joint 30th on 19-over-par 159 after rounds of 78 and 81.

Korean-born Kang, who plays out of Atlantic Beach in the Western Cape, is certainly more familiar with the links feel and windy conditions and the Western Province golfer proved her prowess in the wind when she reached the final of the Sanlam SA Womens Amateur at Milnerton Golf Club, another Western Cape links layout.

Kang also spent a good amount of time practicing chip-and-run shots at her home course and the experience is definitely aiding her campaign at the 14-time Open Championship layout.

After a bogey-birdie-bogey start to her second round, the 17-year-old played the next six holes to par and turned in one over. She dropped another shot at the 10th but once again settled, playing the next four holes in par. At the par-four 15th, she tried to avoid the heavy rough off the right fairway that cost her a shot in the first round, but found the fairway bunker instead. This mistake cost her an extra shot and the tricky pin position added injury to insult, resulting in a double bogey.

“I had a three-putt bogey at the 16th and dropped another shot at the par-four 18th, so I went from two over through 10 holes to six over,” Kang said. “You just can’t believe how quickly the numbers add up on this course. You just have to get over it quickly and not allow it to mess with your head.”

Meanwhile Gous knows he needs to find a little luck in the third round.

The 17-year-old Piet Retief golfer was four shots down after the first three holes, a little tough pill to swallow, and his woes continued with a double bogey at the fifth, two more dropped shots at the eighth and another bogey at the ninth.

“My first putt horse-shoed around the cup, I lost a ball at the second and missed another short one for par at the third,” the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation member said.
“Not exactly the way you want to start. I was nine over with nine to play, but character to give up, so I was actually proud that I only dropped two shots on the back nine. Compared to the four bogeys and double bogey from the first round, it was a major improvement.

“I honestly didn’t realise how tough links golf can be when the wind blows like it has. All you can do is knuckled down and keep on grinding. One round to go and I’m still searching for my first birdie. I hope I don’t have to come home without one.”

Kang will be teeing off in the third last group on Thursday with Liti from Italy and her roommate, American Nicole Morales. “Nicole is the number one ranked junior in the USA, but we have enjoyed a few laughs this week, so it will be great to play with her,” Kang said. “Roberta lost in the final of the Girls British Open to Jing Yan from China and she will be fierce competitor. It should be a great match.”

First round leader Guido Migliozzi held on for pole with a second round 70 and leads by four shots on three-over-par 143 from England’s Jack Singh Brar.

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