London - South Africa’s top amateurs are primed to make the most of a Tri-Series match against Scotland and Australia after a troublesome start to their four-week tour in the United Kingdom.
Teaghan Gauche, Jason Smith, Hendrikus Stoop and James du Preez from Gauteng North, Central Gauteng’s Matthew Spacey and Jade Buitendag from Southern Cape teed off in the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy a few days ago, but Mother Nature dealt their campaign a heavy blow when organisers were forced to cancel the second round.
“Gale force winds blew between 75 and 100km/h and rendered the course unplayable,” said team manager Kevin Stone.
On the bench
“The organisers made the cut to the top 40 and ties based on the first round scores and all six players missed the cut, which was set at even-par 72.
"Although they were a little slow out of the blocks, it was a tough blow for the lads, who had hoped to improve on their opening scores. It was especially disheartening for Jade, who missed by just one shot.
“This was not the way we imagined our tour to start, but the boys took the hit on the chin. They had their first look at the Castle Stuart golf course on Tuesday and are extremely excited to face off against members of the Scottish Golf Union and the Australian Amateur Squad over the next two days.”
The team will have to tackle the Scots and Aussies without No 2 ranked Gauche, who is on the bench after being diagnosed with De Quervains Syndrome.
“Teaghan injured his hand at St Andrews, so we took him to see a physiotherapist,” Stone explained.
“Unfortunately he was diagnosed with a serious form of tendinitis, and will have to sit out the Tri-Series. Hopefully treatment and rest will be enough to see him compete in the Open Amateur Championship next week.
“Since the format for the Tri-Series was five scores to count, it does put us under a little pressure with only five players. The main goal of this trip, however, is to give the lads the opportunity to gain experience playing outside their comfort zone and against top international competitors, so our focus will remain on experience, not scoring.”
Renowned sport psychologist Theo Bezuidenhout joined the team in St Andrews and will be working with the squad to prepare them for the Open Amateur and Brabazon Trophy.
Meanwhile some of the Scottish and Australian players enjoyed a strong showing at St Andrews.
Scotland’s Connor Syme and Craig Howie tied for third on even-par, while Greig Marchbank, who claimed the Proudfoot Trophy in the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship in March, shared sixth place.
Antonia Murdaca led the Australian challenge with a tie for 11th on three over, while countrymen Lucas Herbert and Ben Eccles tied for 14th.
Federico Zuchetti became the first Italian to lift the St Andrews Links Trophy title with rounds of 71, 71 and 72. He beat fellow Italian Filippo Campigli by one stroke on two-under-par 214.