Solid finish for SA in Southern Cross

JasonSmith_TeeShot_GNGUTIGRE, Argentina (30 March 2015) – France celebrated a six stroke victory in the Southern Cross Invitational in Argentina, while South Africa produced a solid final round performance to shift into seventh place in the final standings at the Nordelta Golf Club in Tigre

Romain Lagasque (67), Jeremy Gandon (68) and reigning South African Stroke Play champion Ugo Coussard (71) combined for a final round 206 to secure victory for France on 18-under-par 846.

Ireland took the runner-up spot on 852, Australia claimed third on 859, while Canada edged out Argentina by two strokes to finish in fourth on 877.

The South African team was on the back foot after opening round of 229 in the prestigious international team competition. Although the local quartet continued to languish in eighth, further rounds of 220 and 219 helped the team close the gap on Portugal and combined for a final round 218 to leapfrog Portugal with a total score of 22-over-par 886.

Gauteng North’s Jason Smith carded a 73, Tristen Strydom from Ekurhuleni produced a closing 72, Western Province’s Gerlou Roux also posted a 73, while Hendrikus Stoop from Gauteng North signed off with a non-counting 76.

Strydom and Roux battled back injuries after the Argentine Stroke Play championship, but both players were back to form in the final round.

“Tristen was five over through four holes, but he pitched up at the fifth and played the kind of golf we know he can,” said national coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen.

The country’s number one ranked amateur birdied the fifth and eagled the par-five eighth to turn in two over. He birdied 10, countered a bogey at 11 with birdie at the 13th and finished with a birdie at the 18th to finish level par.

Former SA Stroke Play champion Smith opened with a bogey and dropped two shots at the par-four third, but rallied to shave two shots off his deficit.

“Jason was on the back foot after a three-putt bogey from eight feet at the first and a double at the third,” Van Leeuwen said. “He birdied 11 and 13 and probably should have played under par, but he was very solid for the rest of the round.

“Gerlou was two under through 10 holes after four birdies and two drops, but he found the drink at the par-three 16th, He paid with a double bogey and dropped at the 18th, but a solid round for him, otherwise.

JasonSmith_GNGU“Unfortunately Hendrikus got back on the bogey train after turning two under. He had back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11 and finished with four bogeys in a row.”

South African Golf Association president Gerhard Conradie said the team was understandably disappointed with their overall performance, but the experience outweighed the final result.

“The outcome of this experience far outweighs the final result for me,” Conradie said.

“The boys showed incredible tenacity and commitment. Tristen and Gerlou could have easily thrown in the towel with their back injuries, but showed great character and resilience.

“Jason was a very positive influence and anchored the team. Hendrikus struggled, but he refused to give up and kept grinding.

“In the overall standings, Jason finished a commendable joint 11th, just one stroke behind Gavin Moynihan from Ireland, who is ranked 22nd on the world amateur golf rankings. Tristen, despite his injury, tied for 18th and Gerlou finished joint 21st in a 32-man field of the world-class players.

“The chance to test themselves on foreign soil at a tough layout has been invaluable to their development as players, and it was very beneficial to all of them to test themselves against the cream of the crop from seven other countries

“Despite the disappointment, they were all great ambassadors for South Africa and it was heart-warming to watch them fight their way out of the last position. This kind of experience will pay off for them in the long run and that is why we shouldn’t get too hung up on the result.”

846 France 213 213 214 206
852 Ireland 211 212 218 211
859 Australia 219 218 208 214
877 Canada 222 216 221 218
879 Argentina 227 214 224 214
882 Chile 224 216 224 218
886 South Africa 229 220 219 218
890 Portugal 225 222 219 224

PHOTOS – Jason Smith and Hendrikus Stoop; credit AAG