Young Guns Middelburg Shootout
The 2007 Nomads SA Girls Championship trophy is likely to be hotly contested by a number of juniors including Monique Smit, Bertine Strauss, Dominique Jacobs and Gina Switala, in Middelburg from Sunday 1 to Tuesday 3 July.
With defending champion Tiffany Avern-Taplin, who has won this event an amazing three times in three different divisions, unavailable for this year’s entry, organisers are expecting the stakes to be raised.
No 1 player on the Junior Order of Merit (OM) list Monique Smit (Southern Cape) has quietly been preparing herself for a major win after her part in the winning Southern Cape team for a consecutive year at the Pro Shop 72-Hole Team Championship, at the Polokwane Golf Club in May.
She finished fifth in the Sanlam SA Amateur, and third in each of the KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Province Championships this year.
Bertine Strauss (North West), second on the Junior OM and leading the Ernie Els Foundation Order of Merit, is lying 4th on the Seniors OM, and also ready for her first major, after quietly honing her skills in the past three professional tour events this year.
Strauss has already won the Gauteng North Junior and North West Championships, and she was tied for thirteenth in the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship played in George during April.
Dominique Jacobs (Western Province) was very impressive at this year’s Pro Shop 72-Hole Championship, finishing 8th overall and intending to make her mark on SA women’s golf. She is currently 4th on the Junior order of Merit – it will be interesting to see what she can pull out of the bag.
This year’s field has 141 players, an additional 32 entrants from last year, making it the biggest junior girls event in its history. The annual championship, run by Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA), showcases the best young talent in the country.
There are twenty players under the age of 13 with the youngest, Eleanor Galetti (Gau) at only nine playing off a 23 handicap, no stranger to competitive rounds. Forty players are in the 14-15 age group playing off handicaps from 0 to 33.
There are 40 players with handicaps between +1 and 9; 49 players with handicaps between 10 and 18; 39 players with handicaps between 19 and 27; and 12 players with handicaps between 28 and 33.
A large number of the entrants are from programmes run by the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB), highlighting the progress development is enjoying in the country and the support it receives from the ladies golf associations.
While the championship is the most prestigious event on the girls golfing calendar, it is also an opportunity for many girl golfers to compete under tournament conditions.
The championship division was contested between girls with handicaps of nine or lower, but anyone with a handicap of 33 or better is welcome to play in the other divisions at the event.
These juniors have already been exposed to competitive tournaments as thirty of them already represent their individual provinces and will continue to play tournament golf until they decide to pursue their studies at American colleges or turn professional.
South Africa has recently waived the top crop of younger golfers for foreign shores as they pursue their pro ambitions, most notably Ashleigh Simon, who has just had her maiden win at the Catalonia Ladies Masters.
Breaking another record on the Ladies European Tour, Simon became its youngest winner, and has been invited to join 63 of the greatest professional women golfers for the prestigious HSBC Women’s World Match Play title, over six gruelling rounds of golf in the USA.
In addition, Kelli Shean will be joining Arkansas University and Tiffany Avern-Taplin will be attending Ohio State University later this year. Stacy Bregman, Suzette Venter, Fabienne Haremze, Betty Mokoena have all turned 18 and decided to move to the professional ranks.
The official practice round will take place on Sunday 01 July followed by the 1st Round on Monday 02 July and the final round and Prize Giving on Tuesday 02 July.
2007Junior Order of Merit (Position / Name / Province / Points):
1. Monique Smit (Southern Cape) 100.0
2. Bertine Strauss (North West 91.0
3. Eugenie Clack (Gauteng North) 55.0
4. Dominique Jacobs (Western Province) 48.5
5. Nadia Esterhuyse (Gauteng) 41.0
6. Chloe Garner (Boland) 39.0
7. Rushda Mallick (Western Province) 36.0
8. Gina Switala (Gauteng North) 29.5
9. Connie Chen (Gauteng North) 29.0
10. Larissa Ras (Gauteng) 26.5
11. Tanya Tibshraeny (Eastern Cape) 26.0
12. Gabby de Reuck (Southern Cape) 25.5
13. Hermine Greyling (Boland) 23.0
14. Rone Minie (Gauteng North) 23.0
15. Yushira Buhdram (Gauteng) 14.0
16. Lauren Bekker (Gauteng) 10.0
17. Michelle Leigh (Gauteng) 9.5
18. Stacy Rohwer (KwaZulu-Natal) 9.0
19. J Schonveld (Gauteng) 9.0
20. Simone Burger (Gauteng) 7.0
21. Nicole Garcia (Gauteng) 7.0
22. Landie Venter (Western Province) 5.5
23. Sheila Miao (Gauteng North) 5.0
24. Talia Nel (Gauteng) 4.5
25. Zina Bheekie (KwaZulu-Natal) 4.0
26. Melincke Maartens (Free State & NC) 4.0
27. Alra van der Berg (Mpumalanga) 3.5
28. L Michell (North West) 2.0