Bfn golfer rises to the top

Wilco Nienaber (18), a young golfer from Bloemfontein, continues his rise to stardom with his inclusion in the team that will represent South Africa at an international tournament in Ireland.

The Eisenhower Trophy at the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship will be held in Maynooth, Ireland, in September.

Also included in the team are Jovan Rebula (19) from the Western Cape and Matt Saulez (20) from KwaZulu-Natal. All three are in the team based on merit.

When announcing the team on 28 June, Geoff Taylor, president of the South African Golf Association, said high expectations will follow the trio to Carton House.

“All three players produced good results over the past 12 months and during the recent GolfRSA National Squad Tour to Britain and Ireland.”

Since qualifying was introduced in 1983, Wilco, a learner of Grey College, became the first South African medallist at the Royal Aberdeen Championship held on 21 June.

He beat fifth-seeded Victor Hovland from Norway by two strokes in the 123rd edition of this tournament.

A 12-time winner in 2017, Wilco soared to the number one spot in the Open Amateur Rankings with a third-place finish in the South African Stroke Play Championship at Pecanwood in February.

This Free State golfer also climbed 68 positions to be 147th in the world after the Amateur Championship.

“My father and I went to see my principal at Grey College two years ago. I told him my goal was to make the Eisenhower Trophy team in 2018,” Wilco said. “The school helped me tremendously and allowed me to compete in more national events and to travel abroad. I owe Deon Scheepers, all my teachers and the GolfRSA national squad a huge debt of gratitude. To be selected to represent my country at the most prestigious amateur team event in the world, is a dream come true.”

The format of the Eisenhower Trophy is 72 holes of stroke play with 18 holes a day over four days. In each round, the total of the two lowest scores by the three players from each team constitutes the team score for that round. The four-day total is the team’s score for the championship.

  • Rebula was among the top 50 junior golfers in the United States in his first season at the Auburn University in Alabama last year. He leads the Auburn Tigers in his scoring average. Over the first six months, his results included four top ten positions, second team all-sec honours and the selection to the PING All-Southeast Region squad. He also became the first South African to represent the country on the international teamat the Arnold Palmer Cup.
  • Matt has had a great run of top ten finishes this season, including a runner-up finish in the South African Stroke Play. In addition to joint seventh position in the Irish Amateur tournament, he also made cuts in the Lytham Trophy, St Andrews Links and The Amateur qualifier.

To be selected to represent my country at the most prestigious amateur team event in the world, is a dream come true.

- Wilco Nienaber