GolfRSA National Squad members Luca Filippi and Therion Nel hope to stake another winning performance for South Africa in two top international events in Argentina in November.
Nel from Free State and Filippi from Western Province will travel to Buenos Aires on 29 October and spend two days preparing to extend the country’s fine record in the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup at Los Lagartos Country Club from 1-4 November.
The highly rated Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup comprises a team event and an individual competition and South Africa has a proud history, with two victories and a string of top-five finishes over the past eight years.
Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Sunshine Tour stalwart Ulrich van den Berg claimed South Africa’s first success in 1999, while Ryan Dreyer and JG Claassen combined for the country’s second triumph in 2009.
In 2011, Jared Harvey and Graham van der Merwe rallied for a third-place finish and Drikus Bruyns partnered CJ du Plessis to joint fourth in 2012. Gerlou Roux and Callum Mowat finished fifth in 2014, as did Tristen Strydom and Teaghan Gauche a year later.
Kyle McClatchie and Aubrey Beckley also took fifth in 2016, with Matt Saulez and Malcolm Mitchell combining for fourth place last year.
Following the prestigious international teams tournament, it’s every man for himself in the 123rd Argentine Amateur Championship. The world’s sixth-oldest amateur championships will be staged at Highland Park Golf Club from 7-11 November.
Filippi has risen to fourth in the Open Amateur rankings this season. In his last six starts, he won the Southern Cape Open, shared victory in the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play Championship and enjoyed runner-up finishes in the Western Province Stroke Play and Match Play Championships and the Border Amateur Stroke Play.
‘I am really grateful to GolfRSA, the South African Golf Association and the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation for another opportunity to test myself abroad,’ said the 19-year-old Milnerton golfer.
‘This trip will be even more of a learning curve as Therion and I are travelling on our own without a manager to a country where we have never competed before. It’s very exciting. I think the biggest challenges for us will be the language barrier with the families that we will be staying with and the heat, with temperatures in the high thirties. Hopefully we adjust quickly. We are both super excited to represent South Africa and hopefully win the Team Competition.’
Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation stablemate Nel is the only amateur with a hat-trick of victories to his name this season. The 20-year-old collected trophies in the Northern Cape Open, Limpopo Open and Border Stroke Play and surged to fifth in the Open Amateur rankings.
‘Every athlete dreams of representing his country and I feel very privileged to have been given the honour of wearing the green and gold in Argentina,’ said Nel.
‘Luca and I have known each other for nearly 10 years and we have become good friends through the foundation over the last two years. We had a great time on the GolfRSA National Squad Tour and I think we will be a good combination in Argentina.
‘We’ve chatted to Matt and Malcolm about their trip last year. They both enjoyed it immensely. They said the courses are similar to what we know here in South Africa, but the heat is extreme, so we will need to be prepared for hot days. We are just going to take it one day at a time and play to our strengths and hopefully that leads to victory in Argentina.’
In addition to Argentina, South Africa and defending champions Canada, this year’s event has drawn entries from Switzerland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
‘You really cannot put a price on the value or the impact of international competition and these two events represent a fantastic opportunity for two of the rising stars from our GolfRSA National Squad to further their golfing careers,’ said GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn. ‘We are extremely pleased to offer Luca and Therion this opportunity and we wish them well during their campaign in Argentina.’