Nash de Klerk claimed the Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series title after chipping in for birdie to see off the challenge of his good friend and interprovincial team mate Rorisang Nkosi, as two of South Africa’s brightest young golfing talents shot matching 68s and then produced a thrilling four hole play-off at the Wanderers Golf Club on Sunday 4 November 2018.
By claiming the title De Klerk, a member of the GolfRSA National Squad, qualifies for the regional final of the 18-event #BridgeJuniorSeries which takes place in April 2019. The ultimate prize is an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the prestigious Junior North and South Championship at Pinehurst, USA.
14-year-old De Klerk and 13-year-old Nkosi are ranked in the Top 5 of the country’s U15 golfers, both are members of Pecanwood Golf and Country Club and they are team mates in the North West junior interprovincial team.
“Rori is a very good friend of mine, and we enjoyed playing against each other,” said De Klerk. “I had an advantage on the final play-off hole, because earlier during my round I had chipped in from almost that exact spot, so I knew how it would turn and run.”
His short game is clearly a strong point in De Klerk’s game. Not only did he chip in twice on the same hole, he also holed a bunker shot, and sank a long putt for eagle on the 10th to get his second nine off to a hot start.
“That was a really nice eagle. It is a downhill par 5, decently long at around 500m. I crushed my drive way down there and then I flushed a 4 iron about 220m, to about 20 feet from the hole and made the putt,” he said.
When the golfing gods inevitably turn mean, De Klerk recalls some words of wisdom provided by his father. “My dad once told me that golf course doesn’t owe you anything. So I handle the good and the bad breaks the same way,” he said.
De Klerk, who lives close to the Copperleaf Golf Estate in Centurion, practices at Pretoria University’s High Performance Centre and at Pecanwood. His short term goal is to make the SA team to compete in the Italian International U16 Championship in 2019. The longer term aim is to qualify for the US Amateur, rather than turn professional at too young an age.
If De Klerk wins the regional final of the Bridge Junior Series in April 2019 he will get to walk in the footsteps of golfers playing the US Amateur, as Pinehurst will also host that high profile event in 2019. “It is very exciting, and I will do my best to win,” he said.
The Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series, which is geared at golf development, launched in July 2017 with 18 tournaments countrywide featuring U19 and U13 divisions for boys and girls. Endorsed by GolfRSA, the series is managed by Peter Little of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB).
“Nash and Rorisang produced excellent golf on a very challenging course,” said Paul Stewart, Executive Director at Bridge Fund Managers. “Unfortunately, Rorisang did not walk away with the title this time, but he doesn’t have to wait too long for another opportunity to qualify for the regional finals as there will be #BridgeJuniorSeries tournaments at ERPM Golf Club on 12 January 2019 and State Mines Country Cub on 13 January 2019.”