Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation Newsletter – April 2013
1. Zander Gous claims elusive double in South African junior golf
EEFF member Zander Gous (pictured above with Ernie Els' father Neels) claimed the coveted Nomads SA Boys Championship double when he won the Match Play and the Stroke Play title at Benoni Country Club on 6 April. The 17-year-old Piet Retief golfer emulated Richard Sterne (1999) and Dylan Frittelli (2008) to become only the third junior golfer in the 25-year history of the event to win both titles when he defeated fellow EEFF member Aneurin Gounden from Durban at the first playoff hole.
Gous won the Stroke Play title by three shots, mainly due to equalling the course record with a spectacular 63, 9-under par, in his second round. "I have never hit the ball better," said Gous. "I kept it in the fairways and I hit a lot of greens and my putting was outstanding in the second round."
The Stroke Play Champion was then made to work hard in the Match Play to complete his historic double. His opponent in the final Aneurin Gounden, who is only 15 years-old, fought a titanic battle that lasted 37 holes. It was an incredible performance by such a young golfer and especially when you take into account that he was 5 down after just 9 holes.
"I'm thrilled with the victory and achieving the double means a lot to me," Gous said. "But I can honestly say that having him as an opponent has made this memory more special. This was the toughest and most rewarding 37 holes of my career and his fighting spirit makes this victory incredibly special."
This is an incredible performance if you take into account that Gous has no coach. There is no driving range at Piet Retief Golf Club and if he practices on the 1st fairway then most of the time he must collect his own golf balls. "My dad is not a coach, but he helps me when I video my swing. We compare that with Charl Schwartzel's swing and then I go back to the practice range and work on it," Gous explained. "There are no coaches close to us. That forced me to understand my own swing from an early age. If something goes wrong on the course there is a good chance that I can fix it myself. I know my swing."
These were two strong tournaments for the EEFF. Four of the eight players in the Match Play quarter finals were members: Gous, Gounden, Keelan Africa and Dylon Jacobs. Meanwhile, Other good performances by EEFF members in the Stroke Play came in the form of: T6-David Meyers 76, 71, 67 - 214; T19-Aneurin Gounden 71, 78, 70 - 210; T25-Keelan Africa 77, 70, 74 - 221.
Gous is also doing well at school. He received a scholarship from Lamar University in Houston where he will study Sports Science from 2014.
2. Bianca Theron moves into SA junior golf's No.1 ranked position
It's official! EEFF member Bianca Theron is the No.1 ranked women's junior golfer in South Africa. The 16-year-old has been dominating junior golf since the beginning of the year and a series of solid performances recently elevated her into the top position for juniors in South Africa. "This was one of my goals set for 2013," Theron said. "I am very happy. It took a lot of commitment and hard work. I do not take it for granted because in golf you never know what can happen next. There are a lot of good players who are on my heels."
Theron, who is the 2012 Sport Women of the Year at Stellenberg High in Durbanville, started the year with a brilliant win in the Nomads Western Province Junior Championship at Metropolitan. She followed that with another three titles in the Border Championship at East Londen, the KZN Championship at Royal Durban and the Pam Golding WP Championship at Mowbray.
She also finished second in the Eastern Cape Championship at Humewood, and the World Junior Championship at Kingswood. "I have made a few changes to my swing. I will keep on working as hard as I can. I want to take the opportunity in thanking my coach, Anna Becker from Devonvale. She has played a major role in making sure that I am the best junior in SA currently," said Theron, who also received honorary colours for academics at her school.
3. Nkosinathi wins Club Championship double at Lake Club Benoni
Nkosinathi Dauwa praised his red-hot putter for making history at the Lake Club Benoni during the Club Championship on 17 March. The 17-year old Dauwa, a member of the EEFF, became the first black club champion at Benoni after an intense battle and sudden-death playoff against the highly experienced mid-am provincial and national player, Rowan du Preez, after both players had shot rounds of 77, 73 for a tie on 150.
Dauwa, who is also the Junior Club Champion, praised his putter for keeping him on track in the playoff where he holed some good putts before he eventually clinched the title with a 3-meter putt for birdie.
"I am very pleased with the way I played," said Dauwa, who is the son of former Sunshine Tour professional Theo Dauwa. "I could not miss a putt. I really holed some very good putts in the playoff and that kept me alive. I am very proud of being the club champion."
Dauwa also made history last year when he became the first black player who represented Ekurhuleni on merit at the SA Inter-provincial tournament for juniors in Paarl. Rob van Velzen, club professional at Benoni, speaks highly of Dauwa. He has been looking after Dauwa for the last couple of years. "I am very proud of the way he handled himself during the Club Campionship and especially in the playoff," Van Velzen explained. "There were a lot of members watching the playoff, which adds a lot of pressure. Rowan is a very experienced competitor but Nkosinathi kept his composure."
4. Pro performance by young Rebula in North/South Championship
EEFF member Jovan Rebula could not have asked for better preparation for the SA Boys U19 Championship when he played near-flawless golf on his way to a four-shot victory in the Nomads North/South Championship at the Lake Club Benoni on 27 March. Rebula, who is a nephew of Ernie Els, secured the title with rounds of 67, 67, 69 for 203, 13-under par. Altin van der Merwe from Bellville GC (71, 66, 70 - 207) finished second with Darin de Smidt from Krugersdorp GC (69, 67, 73 - 209) in third position.
The 15-year-old Rebula praised David Meyers, his fellow EEFF member and room mate, for giving him a tip on his putting on the carpet in their hotel room. "I wasn't happy with my putting in the previous tournament," Rebula said. "David helped me with my putting while I was practicing it in the room. I am so glad I was roomed with him, because that tip made all the difference. I really felt comfortable on the greens and I holed some very good putts."
Rebula played solid golf over the three rounds which included an eagle, 16 birdies and 5 drops.
Good performances from other EEFF members (72 is par): 5th- Zander Gous (69, 70, 75 - 214); T12-Karabo Mokoena (72, 73, 73 - 218); T14-Keelan van Wyk (77, 70, 72 - 219; T19-Ian Snyman (72, 72, 76 - 220); T27-Aneurin Gounden (76, 76, 72 - 224).
5. Ace for Keelan Africa
EEFF member Keelan Africa could scarcely have wished for a bigger stage to hit his first hole-in-one. The 16-year-old Africa eliminated the reigning South African Amateur Champion, Thriston Lawrence, when he holed his tee-shot on the third extra-playoff hole in the first round of the Nomads SA Boys U19 Match Play tournament at Benoni CC.
"I called it," said Africa, who is a member at the Riverside Golf Club in Worcester. "Thriston was playing well and I said to my caddie that I need to hit this very close to the flag or hole it because I knew that he would hit it close."
Africa used an 8-iron from 165 meters on the third hole. The ball pitched just past the flag from where it spun back into the cup. "I saw it pitch past the flag, but I could not see it disappear into the cup," Africa explained. "Thriston's dad, Steven, shouted from the green that the ball was in the cup. It took a second or two for me to realize that I have holed my first tee-shot ever. It's a fantastic feeling. I was very excited, but I also said sorry to Thriston!"