Jayden Schaper is South Africa’s second Grand Slam winner. Yes, the slender 16-year-old from Benoni still has a long way to go to emulate the legendary Gary Player, but his name will go into the annals of South African golf history all the same as the first junior to win all four Nomads SA Boys titles.
The SA Boys U-19 Championship has been around for 30 years, but the Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 championships were introduced about 10 years ago.
Schaper won Under-13 championship in 2012, the Under-15 title in 2016 and in April, he joined Richard Sterne, Dylan Frittelli and Zander Gous as a rare double winner when he lift both the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play and Match Play Championship titles.
On Wednesday, he completed an unprecedented Nomads SA Boys Grand Slam when he claimed the Nomads SA Boys Under-17 Championship at Rustenburg Golf Club.
“This is very, very special,” Schaper said after he closed with a final round 69 to defeat Martin Vorster from Southern Cape by one stroke on 11-under-par 205.
“I represented South Africa three times, I won the Under-19 double, won my second Sunshine Tour Junior Series title and a junior event and I just heard that I’ve been selected for South Africa to play the Fellowship Cup Test against India in August.
“I’ve ticked a lot of boxes this year, but winning all four Nomads SA Boys titles is the most special of all. People say it’s a dream come true at these things and it is for me. I’ve wanted to win the grand slam ever since I won the Under-13 title. It’s been a goal for five years and I am just so stoked.”
Schaper opened his bid with rounds of 69 and 65 and carried a two shot lead into the final round over Vorster from the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Academy in Mossel Bay.
“I didn’t feel any pressure coming into the final round, because I’m good at shutting that stuff out,” he said. “Once I’m on the golf course, I just play. The only time I felt some nerves was standing on the 18th tee, but it was all positive. It was like I’d run the marathon and I could see the finish line.”
Schaper gained momentum with birdies at three and four, but Vorster kept pace with a trio of birdies from the fourth. The pair tied at eight under after Schaper bogeyed five and Vorster birdied eight.
“I knew Martin would come at me hard, but I was prepared for it,” said Schaper.
“We are great mates, but when we’re competing against each other, we don’t give an inch. I wanted him to chase, because I love to play under pressure. He played really well, but he struggled with the putter. If a few more putts dropped, who knows? He fought right up to the last putt.”
Schaper opened up a three shot lead with a birdie at 11 after Vorster bogeyed nine and 10. The Pinnacle Point golfer birdied 16 and 18, but it was too little, too late.
“The fairways and greens are hard in the winter and you get some strange bounces or the ball rolls through the fairway,” said Schaper. “You just have to take it on the chin and fight for pars. Besides the bogey on the front nine, I kept a clean card, but I had a couple of awkward bounces and I had to make quite a few up-and-downs to save par.”
Like the eighth, where his tee shot kicked right and settled among the trees.
He punched a low four-iron through a gap and cleared the hazard, but the ball pitched on the green and rolled down the other side, leaving Schaper with a 50 foot chip.
“It was downhill all the way to the pin, but I chipped to five feet and got the birdie,” he said. “I hit a three-iron at 11 that finished just off the fairway on the left. I had 185 metres to the flag and I hit a two-inch grip-down lob-wedge to five feet and made the birdie to go 11 under.”
Six holes later, Schaper stood on the 18th tee with a two shot lead.
“Martin hit a great tee shot down the middle, but I overcommitted and hit my drive into the trees left. I had 121 metres to the pin with a tree in the way and water in front. I hit a low hook and the ball pitched on the green, leaving me with a 25 footer for birdie.
“Martin hit his approach to five foot. I had to start my putt five feet right of the hole and it stopped about a foot and a half left of the hole. Martin boxed his birdie putt and I knew I had make mine to win. I putted well all day and I took that positive feeling into the last putt and nailed it.
“This one is for my parents (Ryan and Yolanda) for all their support and for always keeping me positive. And for my coach and my rock Grant Veenstra. I also want to say thanks to Martin for pushing me all the way.”
Schaper and Vorster played with fellow GolfRSA National Squad players Carl Mwale and Yurav Premlall and the winner had a few wise words for his peers.
“Carl, we thought we lost you after those two early bogeys, but you hung tough and you made some great birdies coming home to finish six under. And Yurav, you had a tough day, but we’ve all been there. You are both very talented, so just keep at it and work hard.
“Thanks also to Rustenburg Golf Club and North West Golf Union for hosting us. This one will always be special to me. Lastly, I switched clubs about five years ago and won my first Nomads SA Boys title. That’s when this quest started, so thanks TaylorMade, for helping me make history.”
Final Result (Top 20)
205 Jayden Schaper 69 67 69
206 Martin Vorster 69 69 68
210 Carl Mwale 71 69 70
213 Ayden Senger 68 74 71
214 Nash de Klerk 73 71 70
215 Kieron van Wyk 73 71 71; Barend Botha 73 70 72
216 Cole Stevens 73 73 70; Ben van Wyk 72 72 72; Reece Coleman 70 74 72; Yurav Premlall 70 71 75
218 Kian Rose 72 73 73
219 Romain Legentil 74 74 71; Casey Jarvis 69 75 75
221 Kyle Campbell 77 73 71
222 Jordan Duminy 75 73 74; Ryan van Velzen 74 74 74; Tyran Snyders 72 78 72; Christiaan Burke 72 76 74; Alexander Pienaar 70 77 75