JOHANNESBURG (9 August 2013) – Ernie Els might be flying the South African flag in the 95th PGA Championship at Oakhill, but the four-time Major champion will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at the third Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship, which tees off at The Els Club, Copperleaf near Pretoria today.
In a message to the qualifiers, Els wished the finalists a great championship and inspired them to keep hard at work at becoming the country’s next generation of Major winners.
“Well done on making it to the finals at Copperleaf, a great achievement in itself,” Els wrote. “You will surely enjoy a great course which is playing so well at the moment. I just hope the bunkers don’t give you too much trouble!
“Thanks to the SAGA for promoting Junior Golf and giving you all this opportunity to perform well in this sport. You must also thank all your parents and teachers who are supporting you and pushing you to be your best. Keep playing and practicing hard. South Africa has a great history in golf, and you are the next generation.
“This is a great initiative and I am very happy to be involved. Lekker speel and enjoy.”
Els launched the prestigious primary schools challenge in association with the South African Golf Association (SAGA) in 2011 with the aim of growing the game at primary school level by giving the juniors a structured platform for competition with regional qualifiers and the national championship.
The inaugural Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship was won by Pretoria-based Anton van Wouw at Copperleaf, but the defending champions were denied back-to-back victories by George’s Glenwood House at the Els-designed Oubaai Golf Resort course last year.
The year, the site of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned Tshwane Open, the par-72 championship layout at The Els Club Copperleaf will provide another stern test for the country’s leading juniors.
SAGA Junior, Senior and Development coordinator Eden Thompson said the support for the championship has grown exponentially in the last three years.
“The championship is incredibly well supported and a total of 17 teams qualified for this year’s championship,” Thomson said. “Winning a tournament with Ernie Els’ stamp on it, has fast became a treasured honour among the juniors.”
Each team consists of four players. The teams will compete in two rounds of 18 holes each, with the three best scores in every team to count in each round.