Hennie Otto’s two-shot triumph at the Italian Open on Sunday was the main topic of conversation among the four South African juniors lining up in the Italian International Under-16 Championship on Tuesday.
Dylan Naidoo from Central Gauteng, Herman Loubser from Boland, Western Province’s Luca Filippi and Luke Mayo from KwaZulu-Natal hope to emulate Otto’s success on Italian soil when they tee off at Golf Club Biella from 2-4 September.
This year marks the eight edition of the prestigious international event that comprises a 72-hole individual stroke play championship and a 36-hole Nation’s Trophy team competition.
The South African team finished third in 2011, while Ekurhuleni’s Tristen Strydom took second in the individual standings. Last year, the team claimed a runner-up finish and fellow Ekurhuleni amateur, Kyle McClatchie, finished third in the individual competition.
The local quartet hope to go the distance this week.
“It certainly won’t be easy, because this is a very tough course, but the boys are highly motivated after Hennie’s win on Sunday,” said SAGA Golf Integration Manager Eden Thompson.
“We had perfect weather during out practice round on Monday and got a really good look at the challenge this week.
“The guys all loved the layout and it is definitely in better condition this year as they had a lot of rain recently. The ground is pretty soft underfoot, but the greens are very hard and fast, which makes chipping a little tricky.
“The rough is also particularly penal this year. When you miss fairways, you will be penalised, because the ball lies down in the grass. Lost balls are a real danger this week.”
Thompson said the course set up nicely for the four youngsters, but especially for Mayo.
“During the practice it appeared that a high draw is the best shape off the tees,” Thompson said.
“That said, I reckon Luke has the better or easier shape to control into the greens with his soft fade.
“The practice round really showed the guys how tough the course can be.
Luckily they all have afternoon tee times, so there is enough time for them to relax and work out how they want to approach the challenge.”