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Juniors leave Italy on positive note

A few of South Africa’s juniors felt hard done by and others felt they had left it too late, but the young golfers are leaving Italy with great positives after their campaign in Italy was cut short on Thursday.

Torrential rain caused two lengthy suspensions at the start and during the third round of the 12th Reply Italian International u.16 Championship, forcing organisers to declare a 54-hole result.

Best of the bunch was Bellville Golf Club ace Sam Simpson, who gained a boatload of confidence with a runner-up finish in the junior showpiece loaded with top international players. Nicolas Fallotico lifted the Teodoro Soldati Trophy in front of a jubilant home crowd at Golf Club Biella le Betulle, carding 70 in the final round to win by two shots on four-under-par 215.

Simpson posted rounds of 74, 69 and 74 to split second place with Max Hopkins and Ben Schmidt from England on two-under.

The 16-year-old reigning Tshwane Junior Open champion also partnered Martin Vorster and Casey Jarvis to second in the team competition, which was played concurrently with the first two rounds. The trio carded rounds of 146 and 144 to edge out Italy by one shot on 290, while England won on 290.

“I enjoyed the trip out here with the rest of the guys immensely,” says Simpson.

“The tournament was incredible. Not just the golf; the whole experience was amazing. I played some good golf to put myself in a strong position and it’s a pity we didn’t have one more round. I enjoyed playing the team event with Martin and Casey. Although Kian (Rose) and Yurav (Premlall) weren’t part of the team, we talked and strategised together as a team. The spirit was great and I learnt a lot from this experience. I’m really grateful to GolfRSA for this opportunity and I want to thank Uncle Dave (Younge) and Uncle Theo (Bezuidenhout) for looking after us and for their encouragement. I will never forget my first international junior event.”

Vorster from the Southern Cape, who captained the team, carded a final round one-under 72 to finish ninth on two-over 221.

“This was the first time I had to defend my title and it was very different to the last two years,” says the 2018 Junior Open champion. “All eyes were on me and I felt the pressure.

“I battled with my irons in the first two rounds, but I was able to claw my way into the top 10 in the third round. The conditions were really challenging, but I was disappointed when they stopped the tournament. I would have loved to try to close the gap.

“Uncle Dave and Uncle Theo were amazing managers and their positive attitude kept us going when things got tough. We are all really grateful to GolfRSA for opportunities like Italy. This is an incredible event and the pay-off for competing here always comes later.”

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