SA primed for Argentinean challenge

2015 Leopard TrophyTristen Strydom, Jason Smith, Gerlou Roux and Hendrikus Stoop are primed to fly the flag for South Africa in the Southern Cross Invitational in Argentina next week.

The country’s leading amateurs will line up against top international teams from the host nation, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Ireland and Portugal at the Nordelta Golf Club in Tigre from 26-29 March.

South African Golf Association (SAGA) president Gerhard Conradie and national coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen accompanied the team to South America.

The local quartet will first compete in the Argentine Stroke Play Championship at the Martindale Country Club in Buenos Aires from 19-22 March. Conradie said it is very exciting prospect for the country’s top amateurs to participate in both events.

“Our players will have the opportunity to put the final touches on their preparation and get a good sense of the competition in the curtain-raiser,” Conradie said.

“We are very isolated in South Africa and our amateurs need international competition to properly improve and grow as players. Our loss in the Leopard Trophy against Scotland last month once again highlighted the significant value that international competition brings to the development of our players’ skills.

“We are really pleased to give them this opportunity to compete in two top international events. The recent R10-million sponsorship from Johann Rupert to launch a national squad system, combined with opportunities like the Leopard Trophy, the Southern Cross Invitational and other top international amateur championships, will give our rising talent the platform to improve and develop their skills to their full potential.”

Ekurhuleni’s Strydom and Stoop from Gauteng North are visiting Argentina for the first time, but Roux and Smith have both competed for South Africa in the South American country.

Roux from Western Province clinched a fifth place finish alongside Callum Mowat in the prestigious Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup in 2013 and last year, Gauteng North’s Smith partnered NJ Arnoldi to a ninth place in the prestigious teams’ championship.

Strydom and Smith will carry some good form into the upcoming events.

Number one ranked Strydom finished second in the Stroke Play qualifier for the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship and the Serengeti golfer claimed a top 10 finish in the Pro-Shop Northern Amateur Stroke Play a week ago.

Irene’s Smith, who ranks second in the Open Amateur standings, tied for sixth in the Free State Open and reached the quarter-finals in the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship.

The Southern Cross Invitational is the amalgamation of the former Southern Cross, Four Nations and Ten Nations Cups.
The inaugural Southern Cross Cup began in 1999 and was contested between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. In 2011, the Southern Cross Cup and Four Nations event between New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Canada was combined and renamed the Four Nations Cup. It was staged in New Zealand and contested between New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and Australia, who clinched the title by 11 strokes.
Due to the demand from other international countries to also compete in a team event in alternate years to the World Amateur Teams Championship, the tournament was renamed to the Ten Nations Cup and was staged at Kingswood Golf Club in South Africa in 2013.
This team’s championship was contested between nine countries after the late withdrawal of Wales.
A decision was reached to revert back to the Southern Cross association and thus the Southern Cross Invitational is a combination of the three championships.
South Africa finished consistently second in the Southern Cross Cup in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, took fourth in the Four Nations Cup in New Zealand in 2011 and placed seventh in the 2013 Ten Nations Cup.

PHOTO: The Southern Cross Invitational team with manager Gerhard Conradie and national coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen; credit Roger Sedres / Image SA.
From left to right: Jason Smith, Tristen Strydom, Llewellyn van Leeuwen, Gerhard Conradie, Hendrikus Stoop and Gerlou Roux.