South Africa’s No 1 ranked amateur Jayden Schaper had a championship to remember and will certainly be an occasion which he will look back on in the future with great pride, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN at Randpark Golf Club.
Schaper turned many heads starting on Thursday when he played alongside his hero Louis Oosthuizen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in the first two rounds, shooting 65 and 67 respectively as he went into moving day in tied second place.
He would eventually finish on 13-under-par, tied 6th position on Sunday as Branden Grace stormed a brilliant three stroke victory.
But, overall, the 18-year-old had the week of his life in terms of the experience and the performance he put up.
‘From the practice round through to standing on the 18th green, getting the awards (he finished as the highest placed amateur) was an unbelievable experience. Playing the first two rounds with Louis, someone that I grew up watching on TV and Christiaan, another guy that I look up to, it was a dream to play with them and it tops everything else that has happened so far in my career,’ said Schaper, who easily claimed the Freddie Tait trophy reserved for the leading amateur.
The teenager admitted that his support team have some tough decisions to make now for the future and if he wants to start competing as a pro, highlighting that some players often decide to turn pro at too young an age.
‘It is a really big decision, you don’t want to jump into things too quickly. We are going to take our time with what choices we need to make. If the opportunity comes and I feel right then I’ll personally know if I’m ready for the next step.’
Schaper gave a lot of credit to his dad, who introduced him to golf as kid and was also on the bag as his caddy for the week.
‘My dad used to take me to the golf course every Friday afternoon at Benoni Country Club where it all started. I’ve loved the game from such a young age and I owe it all to him. He knows how I handle myself and how I react. It was just so special to finish like that in the SA Open and have my dad on the bag,’ said Schaper.