SA quartet to chase 7th African Amateur Team Champs title

2015 Leopard TrophyJOHANNESBURG (4 September 2015) – The South African Golf Association (SAGA) has selected Jason Smith, Jade Buitendag, Aubrey Beckley and new cap Andre Nel to fly the flag for South Africa in the eighth African Amateur Golf Teams Championship in Kenya.

The team will line up in the country’s title defence at Limuru Country Club from 12-15 October.

“Jason has represented South Africa with great success in numerous international events,” SAGA president Gerhard Conradie said.

“He will bring a lot of experience and leadership to the side, while Jade and Aubrey did an outstanding job in their debut at the Africa Zone VI Golf Championship in April.

“Andre has enjoyed a rapid rise in the rankings this season and we are pleased to reward his progress and commitment with the chance to wear the green and gold for the first time.”

A total of 17 nations have confirmed their participation, including Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Swaziland, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Egypt, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia and reigning Africa Zone VI champions Uganda.

Conradie said the biennial event has grown into the one of the most prestigious championships on the African golfing calendar since its inception in 2001.

“The African Amateur Golf Teams Championship is undoubtedly the most esteemed teams’ event in Africa,” Conradie said.

“South Africa has a very proud record in this event. We won the inaugural event in 2001 and triumphed in Botswana (2003), Uganda (2005), Namibia (2007), Egypt (2011) and Swaziland (2013).

“Over the last couple of years, the difference between the top teams came down to a shot of two.

“The competition gets stronger and the standards higher each time we meet, but we have every confidence in our team’s ability. I believe they have the heart to hunt down South Africa’s seventh title and extend our winning run in this championship.”

Border natives Nel and Buitendag, who call Southern Cape home since joining the KeNako Academy in George last year, are ranked third and ninth in the SAGA Open Amateur rankings respectively.

Nel was decidedly pleased to learn of his selection.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said reigning Western Province Amateur champion Nel.

“Every athlete dreams of representing their country and I have worked really hard to get myself eligible for selection. I am over the moon to earn this honour and I look forward to wearing the green and gold with pride.”

Beckley from North West is currently ranked fifth, while 2014 SA Stroke Play champion Smith from Gauteng North holds 13th place in the standings.

Smith has represented the country more than half a dozen times, including the World Amateur Team Championship, two Africa Zone VI Golf Championships, the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup, Leopard Trophy, Southern Cross Invitational and the Summer Universiade earlier this year.

“I can assure you that the excitement when you get the call never diminishes,” the TuksSport Golf Academy player said.

“It is an incredible honour to play for your country. The African Amateur Golf Teams Championship has been on my bucket list for a long time and I am really grateful that SAGA is giving me the chance to tick this box.

“We were devastated after the narrow one point loss to Uganda at the Africa Zone VI and we will bring everything we have to Kenya to make South Africa proud again.”
Conradie and TuksGolf Club & Academies head coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen will accompany the team to Kenya.

The championship will be contested over four rounds of stroke play and the best three scores per round will count toward the team total.

The country with the lowest gross score at the end of the championship will be crowned champions.

 PHOTO – Gauteng North’s Jason Smith; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA.