CAPE TOWN, 4 August 2017 – South African juniors Garrick Higgo, Christo Lamprecht and Luca Filippi will be among the 22 amateurs to contest the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup in the United States next month, with fellow GolfRSA National Squad player Jayden Schaper in prime position to take the 12th and final spot.
The matches will be played on 25 and 26 September at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey and the two-day competition between the International Team and the U.S. Teams of 12 players each takes place just days before the Presidents Cup matches get underway at Liberty National.
Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman will captain the International Team, while David Toms skippers the U.S. Team. Immelman will be joined by fellow South African and honorary captain Gary Player and honorary captain Jack Nicklaus will assist Toms.
Selection for the International Team was based on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), while the U.S. Team was determined by the Rolex AJGA Rankings. The final player for each team will also be decided on rankings and will be announced on September 6.
“It is absolutely magnificent news that three of our juniors have qualified for the International Team,” said GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn.
“Garrick, Christo and Luca competed in the 2017 All Africa Junior Golf Championship with Jayden Schaper, where the team claimed a 19th consecutive victory for South Africa. The quartet also sealed a top eight finish in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in June.
“Their automatic selection is confirmation of the dedication and absolute determination these juniors have shown in the last 12 months. I believe that their participation in the Junior Presidents Cup will serve as a huge source of inspiration to the wave of young stars coming through the ranks across South Africa.
“On behalf of the GolfRSA Board of Directors and the South African Golf Association (SAGA), we applaud their achievement and we wish them a fantastic and memorable first Junior Presidents Cup.”
Higgo qualified alongside Rayhan Thomas from India, who led the International Team rankings. Both players recently reached the semi-final round at the U.S. Junior Amateur at Flint Hills National.
“Seeing your name on the list really drives it home,” said the 18-year-old Boland golfer, who rose more than 100 positions in the WAGR to 213 over the last seven months
“I worked very hard to guarantee my selection and I am over the moon to have made the team. It’s incredible that three of the players that represented South Africa at the Junior World Cup made the team and I think it says a lot about the GolfRSA National Squad programme at home. And Jayden is currently in the 12th spot, so we are rooting hard for him to make it.
“The chance to represent South Africa is a dream come true. We don’t have as many events at home that carry high world ranking points, so I really appreciate all the opportunities GolfRSA create for us to compete internationally. I’ve spent the last three months on the road, competing in premier amateur events in Japan, the UK and the USA. The learning curve has been huge and I can’t wait to reunite with Christo and Luca, and hopefully Jayden, to start the Junior Presidents Cup.”
Lamprecht became the youngest champion at 16 years and 25 days in the 110 year history of the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship in March. Since that career-defining performance at Humewood, the Southern Cape junior has since risen to second on the Junior Standings, sixth on the Open Amateur Rankings and rose to 255 in the WAGR.
“I am extremely happy about this achievement,” said the 16-year-old George golfer. “I don’t believe I would have made the team if it wasn’t for my parents, my family and other key people who opened the doors for me to compete in tournaments at home and abroad.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy for their support, my couch Val Holland for helping me with my golf swing and Golf RSA and the South African Golf Association for the opportunities they have given me to excel. This selection to the International Team would not have happened without their support and belief in my abilities.”
Milnerton’s Filippi, who ranks fifth on the Junior and seventh on the Open Amateur Rankings, agreed.
“It is a huge privilege to play in the Junior Presidents Cup, especially with it being the first one,” said the 18-year-old world number 306. “To make the team with two of my three junior Springbok team mates is absolutely fantastic and we are all hoping Jayden pulls off the captain’s pick.
“It is going to be a great experience to spend time with Trevor Immelman and Mr Gary Player and to get the chance to meet and learn from them. Since I found out about the Junior Presidents Cup, everything I’ve done in the last year has been with the goal to qualify and I am so happy that I can tick this off my bucket list.
“I think the biggest learning curve of this experience is going to be the opportunity to watch the Presidents Cup. To watch the best players and to see how good they really are is an opportunity of a lifetime. I am incredibly grateful to my family, GolfRSA and the South African Golf Association for giving us opportunities to fight for a place on the team. We will play with pride for South Africa.”
The rest of International Team includes Australian trio Karl Vilips, Fred Lee and Joshua Armstrong, as well as, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai from Thailand, Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan from Indonesia, China’s Wocheng Ye and Sean Maruyama from Japan, whose father Shigeki Maruyama competed for the International Team in 1998 and 2000.
Schaper will have one last shot to protect his number 12 spot and make the International Team when he lines up with Higgo, Lamprecht, Filippi and 12 other Junior Presidents Cup qualifiers in the Junior PLAYERS Championship at the TPC Sawgrass from 31 August to 3 September.
However, fellow GolfRSA National Squad player Wilco Nienaber also has Junior Presidents Cup aspirations. Although the Bloemfontein junior is currently 23rd on the International Team Ranking List, a watershed 2017 season that included two victories on the Global Junior Golf Tour, a breakthrough on the senior circuit and three visits to the winner’s circle on the junior circuit suggests Nienaber could give four-time Nomads SA Boys winner Schaper a run for his money at TPC Sawgrass.
Rayhan Thomas, India
Karl Vilips, Australia
Fred Lee, Australia
Garrick Higgo, South Africa
Sean Maruyama, Japan
Atiruj Winaicharoenchai, Thailand
Christo Lamprecht, South Africa
Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan, Indonesia
Joshua Armstrong, Australia
Wocheng Ye, China
Luca Filippi, South Africa