All the latest news involving the talented group of young golfers who make up the current membership of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation
First national title for Gounden
Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation [EEFF] member Aneurin Gounden claimed his first national junior title by beating the cream of South Africa’s juniors at Bryanston Country Club on 14 July 2015. The 17-year-old Mount Edgecombe golfer finished in style, holing a 13-metre curling downhill putt for birdie on the last hole for a three-stroke victory in the Nomads National Order of Merit tournament. He finished the tournament with rounds of 71 and 70 for a 3-under par total of 141. Dylan Mostert from State Mines was second.
According to Gounden, who is in Grade 12, the greens were extremely hard and if you missed the green on the wrong side, you were in trouble. He arrived at the par-4 18th with a one-stroke lead after seven straight pars. “I had a good tee shot and had 120 metres to the pin,” said Gounden, who is currently the best amateur in KZN and being coached by George Harvey. “I left myself with a difficult putt for birdie. It was downhill all the way. I made a solid stroke. The ball hit the back of the hole and luckily disappeared!”
Siyanda is first black Club Champion for Mount Edgecombe
EEFF member Siyanda Mwandla this year became the first black club champion of Mount Edgecombe Golf Club, one of the biggest golf clubs in KwaZulu-Natal, when he beat the former professional Graham Inggs 4&3 in the final of the match play competition. The 21-year old Mwandla, who is coached by Don Gammon at Durban Country Club, was understandably very happy with his performance. “My goal for the final was to keep it in play and to limit my mistakes,” Mwandla said. “I really enjoyed it. I stuck to my game plan throughout the tournament and the final.”
Mwandla followed his match play success with two solid performances in his next two amateur events, where he competed against some of the best amateurs in South Africa. He first finished tied-10th in the Prince’s Grant Invitational and then followed that with a tied-11th position in the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play Championship over 72 holes at Port Shepstone CC. “I did not expect these performances,” said Mwandla. “I have made a small swing change recently and my swing does not feel 100% at the moment. These last few performances have given my confidence a big boost and it also shows that I am working on the right things.”
Fifth title for talented Luca
EEFF member Luca Filippi won his fifth title of 2015 when he secured the trophy in the Glacier Junior Series event at Atlantic Beach Golf Club in May. The 16-year-old shot a brilliant 66 around this challenging layout for a three-stroke victory over Daniel Cronje of Paarl who finished second on 69. The talented Filippi has had a dream start to the 2015 season: his first win came when he was crowned the U23 champion in Western Province at Durbanville. He followed that with wins in two WP Junior Tournaments, held at Durbanville and Rondebosch. He also won the individual section at the Schools’ Championship in George.
Just to add some more spice to the list of good performances, he lost in a playoff in the first Junior National Order of Merit tournament at Durban CC in January; then he was 3rd in the U19 SA Match Play tournament at Polokwane GC and he finished 5th in the Cape Province Amateur at Rondebosch. “I am very happy with the start to the 2015 season,” Filippi said. “I also want to take the opportunity in thanking Ernie Els and Dr Plattner for their support that I am receiving through being a member of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, which is giving me all the opportunities I need to perform at my best.”
Jovan Rebula makes SA Amateur final
Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) member Jovan Rebula (pictured seventh from right, back row, with his fellow members and EEFF CEO Hannes Van Niekerk), showcased his considerable talents in battling his way through to the final of the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship in March. He eventually lost to Daniel Young who became the third Scottish winner of this prestigious tournament in the last five years.
Young proved just too strong for 17-year-old Rebula in the 36-hole final at Silver Lakes, notching up seven birdies and an eagle in the morning round to take a commanding 3-up lead into lunch; a lead that would ultimately prove unassailable. Rebula paid credit to an impressive performance from his Scottish opponent and was justifiably upbeat after what had been a great week’s golf. “I’ve gained a lot of mental experience this week,” said Rebula. “I’m am very glad for Danny, because he played very well and didn’t make any mistakes. It’s not easy playing against a guy like that and I think we will both take a lot away from this final. I’m hoping to take this experience here to the next level for the next few weeks and the future.”
The 2014 Proudfoot Trophy champion also thanked his support group for helping him reach the final. “The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation and my parents have helped me so much in my career,” he said. “It was a big honour to be representing them and I’m a happy man right now.”
Meyers secures North West title after sudden-death playoff
David Meyers played some of his best golf ever on his way to securing the title in the North West Open at the Rustenburg Golf Club on 22 March. The 18-year old displayed some brilliant golf throughout the tournament with rounds of 74, 64, 70, 70 for 278, 10-under par. He finished in joint first position with local amateur Danie van Niekerk, whom he beat on the first extra hole of a sudden-death playoff when he holed his five-metre putt for birdie.
“This was a very special win for me,” Meyers said. “Firstly, the 64 is my best round in a tournament and then secondly, to win the playoff with a birdie on the first hole made it extra special. It was one of those tournaments where everything just came together. I was very happy with the way I hit the ball and then I was very comfortable on the greens.”
Meyers also performed very well in his previous amateur event, the Northern Amateur Match Play, where he finished in very creditable 4th place.
7 distinctions for Eastern Province champion Bianca
EEFF member Bianca Theron won the prestigious Eastern Province Ladies’ Championship at Humewood in Port Elizabeth by an impressive six shots on 8 February. The 18-year-old Theron played outstanding golf, starting the tournament with a brilliant eight-under-par 64 in the first round. She then followed that with a fighting 76 in tough, windy conditions for a two-round total of 140. “This is a great start to my season,” Theron said. “Everything went my way in that round of 64. I hit the fairways, then the greens and then all the putts dropped. It was one of those days. That is my best score ever on a golf course.”
Theron is not just a good golfer, a fact she emphatically underlined when she achieved distinctions in all seven of her subjects in the final matric exams in 2014. “I really worked very hard for a couple of months before the final exams,” Bianca said. “I have burned the candle so to speak and that is why I am so pleased with the outcome.” Bianca achieved outstanding marks for Mathematics (97%), Accountancy (95%), Physical Science (95%) and IT (93%). Her marks for the other three subjects were also very good – Afrikaans (81%), English (80%) and LO (86%). “Yes, I do like to work with numbers. I love it,” Bianca explained.
The 18-year old Theron received a scholarship from Mississippi State University to study and play golf. She will leave for America to start the next chapter of her education and golf towards the middle of this year.
Zethu is new Border Ladies’ Champion
EEFF member Zethu Myeki won the biggest title of her amateur career when she was crowned the Border Ladies’ Champion at East London Golf Club on 22 February. This tournament forms part of Women’s Golf South Africa’s schedule and was attended by top players from all over the country. The 21-year old Myeki played three solid rounds of 77, 72, 75 for a total of 224. That secured her a two-shot victory over Demi Flanagan (79, 75, 72 for 226). “This is without a doubt my biggest amateur win,” said Myeki. “And what made it even more special is the fact that I was leading the tournament from day one.”
Myeki, who is coached by Michelle de Vries, has made significant changes to her swing and this was the first time that her new swing was put to the test. “I am playing with a draw these days,” explained Myeki, “and I am very happy with the way I played. The pressure was very intense, especially leading the tournament over the entire 54 holes. I do not mind the pressure because it forces me to concentrate and focus.”
Mwandla aims for the top
Siyanda Mwandla is determined to become one of the top amateurs in the KwaZulu-Natal Golf Union. He took the first step when he became the KZN u23 champion after he defeated talented Matt Saulez with a birdie on the third extra hole of a sudden-death playoff on 22 February at Selborne Country Club. The 21-year-old EEFF member secured a spot in the playoff after rounds of 72, 71 for 143, one-under par. Both players parred the par-4 10th hole and then extended the playoff after both made birdies on the par-5 18th. Mwandla secured the victory when they went back down the 10th hole and he holed a two-metre putt for birdie. “I am delighted,” said Mwandla, who is coached by George Harvey. “I have set a few goals for myself in 2015 and winning the u23 title was one of them. I am happy with the way I played and winning the title in sudden-death made it even more special.”
Lwazi on a mission at Westbank
Lwazi Gqira kicked off the 2015 season as a man on a mission. The East London golfer and EEFF member came second in the Aliwal North Open and then followed that with a win in the Westbank Open on 15 February. Gqira shot rounds of 75 and 71 for 146, which assured him a four-shot victory at Westbank overlooking the Indian Ocean. Charl Joubert (70, 80 for 150) finished second. ‘’I am very happy with the way I handled the pressure and especially the tough, windy conditions in the afternoon,’’ said Gqira, who is coached by Michelle de Vries. ‘’I have worked very hard for this win. I missed the cut in my last three tournaments, the North Gauteng Amateur, the EP Amateur and the Free State Amateur and that inspired me to come home and work harder.’’
Gqira travelled by bus back to East London after he missed the cut in the Free State Amateur at Bloemfontein GC. ‘’It was a long and lonely trip, but it was very productive,” said Gqira. “It gave me enough time to think about my golf, where I want to go and how to achieve that. The win at Westbank showed me that if I am prepared to work hard, anything is possible in this game.”