Christiaan Bezuidenhout (pictured), Zander Lombard and Gerlou Roux will represent South Africa in the Eisenhower Trophy at the biennial World Amateur Team Championships in Japan in September, the South African Golf Association (SAGA) announced on Monday.
“We chose the team in accordance to the Open Amateur rankings and Christiaan, Zander and Gerlou are respectively ranked first, second and third,” said SAGA president, Andre Pieterse.
“However, they have all underlined their skill victories and impressive performances this season and we definitely consider them capable to challenge at this prestigious international team championship.
“All three have had the experience of competing at home and abroad against strong international players and have proven themselves worthy of representing South Africa.”
Bezuidenhout and Roux will make their debut in the world class event, while Lombard returns for duty, having represented South Africa in the 2012 edition in Turkey.
Lombard reached the final of the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush in June and rose to a career high 39th in the Official World Amateur Golf Rankings.
On home ground, the TuksGolf player enjoyed 11 top 10 finishes, including three third place finishes, second at the Border Stroke Play and victory at the KwaZulu-Natal Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
“It is an incredible honour to represent South Africa again,” the 19-year-old Pretoria amateur said.
The Woodhill golfer leaves for the United States on Friday, where he will compete in several top amateur events, including the US Amateur Championship.
“I want to use the experience to prepare properly for the Eisenhower Trophy and give our team a real fighting chance this year,” he said.
Bezuidenhout has topped the rankings for more than a year and reeled in a slew of top five finishes this season, including victories in the Free State GU Open Amateur Stroke Play, Sanlam Cape Province Open and Western Province Stroke Play Championships.
The world number 43 showed his class with a top 50 finish in the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy.
“After I matriculated, I took a decision to remain on the amateur circuit for two more years with the specific goal of qualifying for the Eisenhower Team,” said the 20-year-old Ekurhuleni golfer.
“This is a dream come true for me. This is what I played for.”
South Africa has never won the Eisenhower Trophy, which draws the top golfers from approximately 70 countries in the world. The country’s best performance was a runner-up finish at Pinehurst in 1980.
The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member thinks the team has a chance in Karuizawa.
“I think the team is well balanced and this will serve us well in Japan,” he said. “We have all done well at home this year and Zander and I also gained a lot of experience during our trip to Scotland. We’ve had some success for South Africa in team events this year, and that will also count in our favour.”
Roux made the team after he replaced the previously selected Thriston Lawrence at third in the rankings after the Mpumalanga amateur joined the pro ranks in June.
The 37-year-old Bellville golfer brings a wealth of experience from a professional and amateur career spanning nearly 25 years. His inclusion is well supported by two runner-up finishes, and victories at the Western Province Amateur Match Play Championship and Highveld Mid-Amateur Open this season.
Roux is delighted to make his debut at the Oshitate Course at the Karuizawa Prince Hotel and Resort.
“I think we have a well balanced team, because we all bring different qualities and dimensions to the side,” Roux said. “I never had the opportunity to play for South Africa as an amateur first time around and I have worked very hard and made a lot of sacrifices to reach this milestone in my golfing career.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to Zander and Christiaan yet, but my only contribution will be that we are going to Japan to win this for South Africa.”
SAGA vice-president, Gerhard Conradie, and TuksGolf Club and Academies head coach and technical director, Llewellyn van Leeuwen, will accompany the team as the SAGA delegate and coach respectively.