South Africa’s top junior pair Jayden Schaper and Woo-Ju Son both closed out top 15 finishes in the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy in England.
Reigning Nomads SA Boys Under-19 champion Schaper produced his best effort of the week – a two-over-par 74 – and shot to joint 11th overall. The petite Son battled a wayward driver, but to secure a share of 15th despite a final round 81 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.
Schaper tied for ninth in the Boys Competition and Son, the 2017 Nomads SA Girls Champion, was fifth in the Girls Competition.
“Jayden went off first and despite starting in driving rain, he was three under through five holes,” said Womens Golf South Africa president Sally Greasley. “He hit a great drive at the third, drove the green with his second and just missed the eagle putt, but settled a nice birdie.
Schaper hit his tee shot close at the par three fourth and boxed the birdie putt and two great shots at the fifth set him up for a tap-in birdie.
“The rain stopped, but the wind was still pumping and unfortunately Jayden spoiled the run with a wayward drive at the sixth,” Greasley said. “He was in the thick rough and his only option was to chip back to the fairway. He hit a good approach, but his par putt lipped out.
“After par at the seventh, his found the bunker at the eighth with his second shot. His ball was in a footprint and he had very little room to swing, and couldn’t get out the first time. His third shot landed 12 feet from the hole, and he boxed the putt to save par.”
Schaper was two over after 10 and dropped further shots at 12 and 13, but the 16-year-old rallied with birdies at 14 and 16 to offset bogeys at 15 and 17 and finished with a par.
“The back nine on this course is extremely challenging as it runs parallel with the coast, so the wind pushes the balls left to right,” Greasley said.
“Jayden hit a superb three-iron straight into the wind at 11, a par three measuring 171 metres, but still came up 40 metres short. He saved par with a great up-an-down. Unfortunately his second shot hit the side of the green at 12, which led to a bogey.
“At 15, he had 270 metres to the pin after hitting one-iron straight into the wind. His second was dead straight, but still came up 100 metres short and despite a great chip, he two-putted for bogey. He found the rough at 16 and finished just short of the green, but two-putted for a great birdie.
“At 17, he hit a great trap shot out of a deep bunker, but missed his second putt to save par and he finished with a two-putt par at 18. This was really a great score and he should be very proud of the way he played. He finally came to grips with the course in very difficult weather conditions.
“During the prize giving dinner, the captain of Royal Liverpool said in the 50 years that he was been a member at Royal Liverpool, he had never experienced such extreme weather conditions like the four days the field had to face.”
Meanwhile Son was level through eight holes, but the 15-year-old dropped nine shots on the stretch back to the clubhouse.
“Woo-Ju was very unhappy and disappointed with her round and didn’t’ want to say much,” said Greasley. “Considering her small size, Woo-Ju showed amazing fighting spirit because she really took a pounding in the wind. She still finished 15th overall and a very credible fifth in the Girls Competition. “The past four days were really gruelling and the juniors probably won’t have fond memories of the weather, however, the ability to adapt and to shape shots to suit the conditions is crucial if you want to take your game to the next level and compete on the world stage. This experience will have given both of them a lot of food for thought.”
Article By: Lali Stander