4 August 2014 – Golfers always feel pressure going into a national team championship, but there is even more at stake for St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School with a title defence on the table.
However, the Ekurhuleni institution have managed to double their chances for the fourth Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship in August.
With two teams lining up at Middelburg Country Club, the defending champions will bring twice the firing power to the battle when the prestigious team event tees off from 9-10 August.
“As the defending champions, we received automatic entry into this year’s event, but we decided to enter both our A- and B-teams in the Provincial Regional Qualifier in June,” explained St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School Director of Sport, Chris Tucker.
“I wanted all eight players to experience the competition and have the chance to play together.
“Both teams performed incredibly well at Alberton Country Club. The A-team won the Qualifier, while the B-team finished in third behind Laerskool Kruinsig. Since the A-team automatically qualified, the two qualifying spots went to Kruinsig and our B-team.
“We are obviously thrilled to have two teams taking up our title defence, because the Ernie Els Primary School Championship is regarded as the flagship event on the primary school circuit.”
Although this is only the fourth edition of the championship, sponsored by the four-time Major winner, Tucker is not surprised that the event enjoys such tremendous support.
“Although we have a schools league, it is not as highly competitive as at high school level,” Tucker said. “With a national championship of this standard, it is not surprising that institutions across South Africa vie for a spot in the Ernie Els Primary School Championship.”
“The players take great pride in representing their schools at national level and, having Ernie Els as the sponsor, has only increased the prestige of the event.” St Dunstan’s scored a runaway 11 stroke victory at The Els Club Copperleaf in 2013 and Tucker is quietly confident in his charges’ ability to repeat last year’s success.
“The players – even those who didn’t compete in the event – gained a lot of confidence from the victory, because we beat some strong contenders for the title, including Curro Aurora and the 2012 champions, Glenwood House,” he said.
“All eight players are fired up to become the first school to successfully defend the title.”
Thirteen-year-olds Jayden Schaper and Warwick Purchase were members of the victorious team in 2013. They return for duty alongside 10-year-old Zamokuhle Nxasana and 13-year-old Grant Ferriera.
“Jayden and Warwick will bring experience to the side and guide the rookies,” Tucker said.
“Zamo and Grant have both competed abroad through SA Kids Golf, and I think we have a very good combination in these four players.
“Calvin Monk, Jarod du Plessis, Marco Gouveia and Joshua Hirsch in the B-Team have been competing in the schools league and in some of the South African Golf Association’s provincial events in preparation for the championship.
“You can never predict what will happen on the day, but our players are certainly motivated and determined to become the first two-time champions of the Ernie Els Primary School Championship.”
A total of 80 players from 19 schools will tee it up in this year’s event.
Each team has four players and the 20 teams will compete in two rounds of 18 holes each. The three best scores in each round will count towards the team total in each round.
ERNIE ELS PRIMARY SCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIP – TEAMS
Paarl Boys Primary School
St Johns Preparatory
St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School 1
St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School 2
Grey College Primary
Willem Postma Primer
Virginia Preparatory School
Laerskool Bosveld Primary
Laerskool Staatspresident CR Swart
Kathu Primary School
+ PHOTO: St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School will field two teams in their title defence at the fourth Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship at Middelburg Golf Club from 9-10 August.
Back, from left to right: Grant Ferreira, Jayden Schaper (captain), Warwick Purchase, Jarod Du Plessis, Marco Gouveia
Front, from left to right: Zamokuhle Nxasana, Calvin Monk, Joshua Hirsch