NORMAN ACADEMY INVITATIONAL
Junior golfers strut their stuff in the US
Golf RSA juniors Wilco Nienaber and Woo-Ju Son captured a one, two finish for SA in the Greg Norman Academy Junior Invitational in the US on Sunday.
Nienaber laid down a marker for a Global Junior Golf Tour hat-trick when he opened with a one-under-par 71 on the Norman Course in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The Bloemfontein junior kept control with a level par 72 in the second round and sealed a five-stroke triumph on two-under 214 with a final round 71.
Nienaber, whose average drive hovers around the 315m mark, said a good dose of self-belief carried him to the winner’s circle.
"I didn’t have a good week with the putter," he said. "I drove it well and the irons were accurate, but I couldn’t score on the greens. When I led the first round, I knew I could win. I felt confident and I backed myself."
The 17-year-old from Grey College has further title aspirations and is targeting a 12th trophy finish in this week’s South Beach International Amateur, which tees off at the Miami Beach Golf Club and Normandy Shores Golf Course on Tuesday.
But he will not only face some serious challengers from the US. SA’s top-ranked amateur Garrick Higgo will be aiming to better his joint 11th-place finish in 2016’s event, while triple Ekurhuleni champion Malcolm Mitchell, 2017 World Amateur Reunion champion Dylan Kok and Andrew Williamson are also lining up.
Meanwhile Son celebrated her 16th podium finish for 2017 with a runner-up position in Myrtle Beach. She opened with a 75 to grab a share of the three-way tie at the top and led the field with a second-round three-under 69. She returned a 78 in the final round to finish on six-over 222. Colombian Daniela Gonzalez won by three shots.
Son has been equally impressive with eight victories this season. The 16-year-old Country Club Johannesburg junior outclassed the professionals with a top-10 finish in the SA Women’s Open and lifted the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur at San Lameer Country Club.
She will be heading back to the US in January to compete in the Annika Invitational at the World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida.