Reigning SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith and top ranked NJ Arnoldi hope to stake another winning performance for South Africa in two top international events in Argentina in the next fortnight.
Smith from Gauteng North and Ekurhuleni’s Arnoldi arrived in Buenos Aires this weekend and will spend the next few days preparing to extend the country’s fine record in the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup at the Los Lagartos Country Club in Pilar from 6-9 November.
Smith and Arnoldi will challenge in individual stroke play, with the aggregate scores counting towards the team total in each of the four rounds. The tournament also has an individual competition.
Former Masters champion Immelman and Sunshine Tour winner Ulrich van den Berg claimed South Africa’s first victory in 1999, and in 2008, former Sanlam SA Amateur champion Ryan Dreyer and JG Claassen combined for the country’s second triumph.
Jared Harvey and Graham van der Merwe rallied for a third place finish in 2011, Drikus Bruyns and CJ du Plessis tied for fourth in 2012 and Gerlou Roux partnered Callum Mowat to fifth place last year.
Australia tops the medal table with five victories, followed by England with four and the Netherlands with three titles. South Africa and the host nation boast two victories each.
In addition to Argentina, South Africa and defending champions Spain, the 19th edition of the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup has also drawn entries from Switzerland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
Following the prestigious international Teams Tournament, it’s each man for himself in the 119th Argentine Amateur Championship.
The sixth oldest amateur championships in the world and the most highly rated in Latin will be hosted at the nearby Highland Park Country Club from 11-16 November.
South African Golf Association president Gerhard Conradie is confident that Smith and Arnoldi are up for the challenge ahead.
“Both players gained valuable experience on international level this season and left for Argentina on the back of impressive performances at the MCB Indian Ocean Amateur Golf Open in Mauritius, where Jason finished second and NJ third,” Conradie said.
“In addition to his debut for South Africa in the Eisenhower Trophy at the World Amateur Teams Championship in September, Jason also recently held off a charging pack at the Ekurhuleni Open to claim victory.
“NJ had a very good trip to the United Kingdom in June and July, where he participated in various top amateur championships, including the St Andrews Links Trophy and the British Amateur.
“They are both in-form and ready for the battle to commence and we are confident that they will put their best effort on display in Argentina.”