CAPE TOWN, 12 September 2017 – Jayden Schaper hardly needed a booster shot of confidence after his record-setting Nomads SA Boys Grand Slam in April, but South Africa’s top ranked junior got one nonetheless.
On Wednesday, 6 September, the 16-year-old Ekurhuleni golfer was confirmed as the final member of Gary Player and Trevor Immelman’s International team for the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup from 25-26 September.
This is another coup in a succession of outstanding achievements for Schaper this season, who won the elusive double in the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Championship, scored two victories on the Sunshine Tour’s Junior Series and made four international appearances for South Africa.
The International team selection was based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. With his tie for 24th in the Junior PLAYERS Championship – the final counting event – Schaper leapt to 341st in the latest standings to clinch the final spot on the International Team.
The junior event precedes the Presidents Cup at Liberty National and in less than two weeks, Schaper and fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Garrick Higgo, Christo Lamprecht and Luca Filippi will rub shoulders with the South African Major legends in the matches at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey.
Player was absolutely delighted with the SA quartet’s accomplishment.
“It is fantastic that four of South Africa’s juniors fought their way on to the International Team and Trevor and I are absolutely bursting with pride,” said the Grand Slam champion.
“I never had the chance to represent South Africa as a junior and certainly not in an event of this stature. It is a brilliant initiative to take the top 24 golfers from the USA and the rest of the world and pit them against each other in a junior version of the Presidents Cup. The chance to showcase their talents on a televised world stage is a huge opportunity for any young player and our four juniors will gain a tremendous amount of experience from the competition and the exposure.
“I always keep an eye on the South African golfers and I have been so impressed this year. Four of the GolfRSA National Squad players have won abroad and now four more will be competing in the Junior Presidents Cup. This is all the direct result of the tremendous junior programme in South Africa and the financial backing from Johann Rupert for the GolfRSA National Squad.
“Although players have their own coaches and support teams, the National Squad provides the crucial extras. Top players need to focus on fitness and diet; they must have mental support and structured programmes to reach the next level. You have to be completely dedicated to the game to excel and these young men have shown that kind of dedication and commitment to earn their spots on the International Team. I believe they are going to inspire and motivate a wave of young players back home to shoot for the same goals.”
GolfRSA chairman of the board Rupert was also full of praise for the South African quartet.
“We know that travelling to compete abroad is very expensive for South African golfers, so our juniors really had to make the most of every opportunity to boost their world rankings and make the Junior Presidents Cup team,” Rupert said.
“This is fantastic news for golf development in South Africa. We are extremely proud of these young men and to have four players on the International Team is a remarkable accomplishment for our country. Congratulations to our juniors – you will motivate many more young golfers to aspire to greatness.”
South African Golf Association president Geoff Taylor and GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn also lauded the junior quartet.
“Thanks to the funding from Mr Rupert, we were able to send the juniors to compete in the Junior PLAYERS Championship,” said Taylor. “They all performed remarkably well, especially Jayden, who made the most of the opportunity to seal his spot on the International Team.
“They have all been wonderful ambassadors for South Africa and the GolfRSA National Squad and we are very proud of their achievement. Irrespective of the outcome of the matches, the experience of playing in this unique and prestigious event will serve them well in years to come.”
Hepburn believes the SA juniors are well-equipped for the task ahead.
“All four juniors had opportunities to gain international experience this season,” Hepburn said. “They won the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship, finished in the top 10 at the Junior Golf World Cup in Japan, defeated India in the Fellowship Cup at Leopard Creek and beat eight nations, including the SA Senior Team, to finish second in the African Amateur Championship.
“I believe our juniors can stand tall among the other participants in the Junior Presidents Cup, but more importantly, we want them to enjoy the matches, to learn from Mr Player and Trevor and to make the most of this unique opportunity to gain experience at the top level.
“On behalf of GolfRSA and its board of directors and the South African Golf Association, we wish them a safe journey and a great golfing experience.”
The South African quartet will meet the rest of the International Team members on 23 September, including Rayhan Thomas (India), Karl Vilips (Australia), Fred Lee (Australia), Sean Maruyama (Japan), Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (Thailand), Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan (Indonesia), Joshua Armstrong (Australia) and Wocheng Ye (China).