Woo-Ju Son played herself into the top 10, but Jayden Schaper will have some work to do to close the gap on the frontrunners as South Africa’s top junior pair head into the second round of the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy in England.
Son, from Gauteng, and Ekurhuleni’s Schaper started the limited field, invitation-only championship – hosted by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew – alongside 52 players from 27 countries at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake on Tuesday.
Son opened with a five-over-par 77 to tie for ninth, while reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke and Match Play champion Schaper finished in a tie for 32nd with a frustrating 82.
‘The wind wasn’t as strong as the 50 miles per hour squall that raged during the practice round, but it was still fierce, and the players were subjected to some heavy showers,’said Women’s Golf South Africa president Sally Greasley.
‘The course has been beautifully prepared. The greens are superb, there are plenty of deep pot bunkers, but the rough is exceptionally tough. If you miss fairways, there is little chance of getting out with a good result.
‘Jayden went off early, and in his own words it was a long, long day. He three-putted the first for a double bogey, but immediately birdied the second. Unfortunately that was his only birdie for the day. He had several lipped putts, but he battled to keep it in the fairway.
‘He bogeyed four and five with difficult up-and-downs from rough around the greens and a double at nine took him around the turn at three over. He started with two pars, but with wind even stronger on the back nine, not finding the fairway proved costly. A double bogey at 12 and further drops at 13, 14 and 18 saw him finish a disappointing 10 over. Positive as always, he is determined to come back stronger today.’
Reigning Nomads SA Girls champion Son finished six shots behind the first round pacesetters Felix van Dijk from the Netherlands, Keita Nakajima from Japan and Girls U-18 National Stroke Play runner-up Maja Stark from Norway.
‘Woo-Ju had a fairly good day with her usual steady driving and great striking on her second shots,’ said Greasley. ‘She started with a bogey and had three in a row from the sixth, but birdied the ninth to turn three over. She started the back nine with another bogey and dropped two shots at the par four 12th, but made a superb birdie at the par-five 16th to claw back a shot.
‘At 17, she hit a superb four-iron to miss a deep bunker and very nearly birdied the hole, but the wind pushed her putt off line. She drove the middle of the 18th fairway in sweeping rain, got it to the green for two and two-putted for par.
‘Although they both felt exhausted after battling the elements, they remain very positive. I believe they can both improve as they come to terms with the layout and the weather conditions.’
Son is currently tied for second in the Girls Competition and shares ninth spot with Girls Under-18 national winners Mayka Hoogeboom from the Netherlands and Norwegian Franzika Sliper, and Boys U-18 champion Gianmarco Manfredi from Italy.