Smith bidding for home glory at SA Amateur Stroke Play

2015SAOP_JasonSmithTreesGNGUPORT ELIZABETH. 2 February 2015 – South Africa’s top amateurs are set to face some strong international opposition in this year’s South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship, which tees off at Port Elizabeth Golf Club from 3-6 February.

Defending champion Jason Smith will spearhead the local challenge against 31 players from Ireland, Scotland, France, England, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

The last international winner of the championship was Englishman Gary Wolstenholme, who triumphed at George Golf Club in 2002. Smith believes the large international delegation will attempt to change the course of history.

“The SA Stroke Play is one of the two most prestigious tournaments on the South African amateur circuit, so of course we want to keep the trophy at home, but I think the foreigners are going to throw down the gauntlet this year,” the 20-year-old Irene golfer said.

Smith held off 2014 British Amateur champion Bradley Neil from Scotland, 2013 North of Ireland Stroke Play champion Dermot McElroy and local favourite Stefan Cronje at Benoni Country Club to claim a one stroke victory at Benoni Country Club last year.

The TuksSport Golf Academy player is quietly confident following a tie for fourth in the Eastern Province / Border Stroke Championship on Sunday.

“The Scots are always dangerous, but judging by the way the way the Irish were gunning on the weekend, they could also pose a strong challenge,” Smith said.

“We don’t know much about the French, but you can never discount them. I think the foreign players are really encouraged by the fact that we haven’t had a foreign winner in 12 years and I believe this week is going to be a real humdinger.”

The South African line-up will be further strengthened by Smith’s team mates for the Leopard Trophy at Leopard Creek against Scotland later this month.

The rest of the team include South Africa’s number one Tristen Strydom, as well as Gerlou Roux, Hendrikus Stoop, Matthew Spacey, Cronje, Teaghan Gauche and Paul Boshoff, who respectively ranked second, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth on the current South African Golf Association’s (SAGA) rankings.

At 50 years old, Mzuynda Zingela from Humewood is the oldest participant this year.

The seasoned campaigner will lead the Eastern Province challenge alongside team mates Andile Adam, Fezekile Kana and Sieg Human, who celebrated B-Section promotion in the SA Premier Inter-Provincial at Westlake Golf Club in September last year.

PHOTO – South African Amateur Stroke Play champion, Jason Smith; credit Catherine Kotze.