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CAPE TOWN, 28 June 2018 - GolfRSA National Squad members Jovan Rebula, Wilco Nienaber and Matt Saulez will represent South Africa in the Eisenhower Trophy at the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship in Maynooth, Ireland in September.

2018 Crop Collage

PHOTO -  George golfer Jovan Rebula (left) , the 2018 Amateur champion, will captain the South African team in the Eisenhower Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House in Ireland from 5 – 8 September 2018; South Africa’s number one ranked amateur Wilco Nienaber (top-right) from Free State and KwaZulu-Natal amateur Matt Saulez (bottom-right), ranked third in the country, will represent South Africa in the Eisenhower Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House in Ireland from 5 – 8 September 2018; credit Ernest Blignault.

In announcing the team today, South African Golf Association President Geoff Taylor said high expectations would follow the trio to Carton House.

“We are really pleased with the team we selected,” Taylor said. “All three players produced good results over the past 12 months, and particularly during the recent GolfRSA National Squad Tour to Britain and Ireland.

“Not only is Jovan our highest ranked amateur in the world, but over and above his outstanding victory in The Amateur, he has been very successful on the collegiate circuit in the United States.

“Wilco lived up to his number one ranking with a runner-up finish in the Brabazon Trophy and once again underlined his potential when he became the first South African to win the stroke play qualifier in The Amateur since qualification was introduced in 1983.

“Matt has maintained his number three ranking here at home and he consistently performed well in the events abroad, with a tie for seventh in the Irish Amateur Open among his highlights during the GolfRSA National Squad Tour.

“We are satisfied that we have selected the strongest team possible to represent South Africa in Ireland and they will be heading to Carton House with form and confidence.”

Rebula was among the top 50 junior golfers in the United States in his first season at Auburn University last year. He currently leads the Auburn Tigers in scoring average.

Over the first six months of the season, his results – including four top 10 finishes – have earned him an All-American mention, Second Team All-Sec honours and selection to the PING All-Southeast Region. He also became the first South African to represent South Africa on the International Team at the prestigious Arnold Palmer Cup.

The 20-year-old Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member shot to 59th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings – a jump of 133 positions – following his 3 & 2 victory in The Amateur Championship.

“I am very grateful to GolfRSA for the chance to compete in Britain and to earn another opportunity to represent my country in the World Amateur Team Championship,” said the George golfer, who will captain the team at the Montgomerie and O’Meara courses at Carton House from 5 – 8 September.

“This is one of golf’s most prestigious competitions and it is one of the most rewarding achievements in golf to represent your country. I am so honoured to lead our team in this championship.

“We are extremely proud to represent our country and to represent every union, volunteer and official that dedicate their time and effort to developing golf in South Africa. We are also thankful to the South African Golf Association for the opportunity they have given us.”

A 12-time winner in 2017, Nienaber soared to number one in the Open Amateur Rankings with a third-place finish in the SA Stroke Play Championship at Pecanwood in February. The Free State golfer also rose 68 positions to 147th in the world after The Amateur Championship.

“I worked incredibly hard to achieve this goal and the relief and the satisfaction is indescribable,” said the 18-year-old from Bloemfontein.

“My dad and I went to see my principal at Grey College two years ago. I told him my goal was to make the Eisenhower Trophy team in 2018. The school helped me tremendously to allow me to compete in more national events and to travel abroad.

“I owe Mr Deon Scheepers, all my teachers, Mr Rupert and the GolfRSA National Squad a huge debt of gratitude. To be selected to represent my country at the most prestigious amateur team event in the world is a dream come true. I can’t wait to put on my blazer for South Africa.”

Saulez, from KwaZulu-Natal, has had a great run of top 10 finishes this season, including a runner-up finish in the SA Stroke Play. In addition to joint seventh in the Irish Amateur, he also made cuts in the Lytham Trophy, St Andrews Links and The Amateur qualifier.

“To make the Eisenhower Trophy team was my goal from the start of the season,” said the 19-year-old Durban Country Club golfer. “I had some great highs and bitter disappointments along the way, but I kept on grinding and to get the nod is the greatest reward.

“To represent South Africa at the highest level is an immense honour and privilege. I am extremely grateful to Mr Rupert and GolfRSA for the opportunity to compete in Britain and Ireland and to have the chance to play both courses at Carton House during the tour. I loved the look of both courses and can’t wait to get back to Ireland.”

GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn commended the South African Golf Association on their selection.

“I congratulate the selectors on naming Jovan, Wilco and Matt to represent South Africa in Ireland,” Hepburn said. “It was a difficult choice for the selectors, because the talent pool runs very deep, as illustrated during the recent GolfRSA National Squad Tour abroad.

“A huge amount of work goes in from grassroots level at our clubs and unions all the way through the ranks to the point where we select to our national teams. One should not lose sight of their very valuable contribution in bringing these players to the highest level of competition.

“I have no doubt that these three young men will rise to the occasion. They have all done really well against top amateurs around the world in the last eight weeks and we are very proud of their achievements.

“I am really pleased that Jovan chose to remain in the amateur ranks. He will bring a lot of experience to the team, having also captained the 2016 World Amateur Championship team in Mexico. As a group, the trio bonded really well during the tour in Britain and we are confident that they will put up a bold showing in Ireland.”

South Africa’s number two-ranked Malcolm Mitchell was named as the non-travelling reserve.

The Eisenhower Trophy format is 72 holes of stroke play with 18 holes a day over four days. In each round, the total of the two lowest scores by the three players from each team constitutes the team score for that round. The four-day total is the team’s score for the championship.

GolfRSA Manager Golf Operations Eden Thompson, who accompanied the GolfRSA National Squad on the first leg of the UK Tour to Ireland, will manage the team at Carton House.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA.

ABERDEEN, Scotland (23 June 2018) - Jovan Rebula became the first South African in more than half a century to break the curse of the Royals and win the 123rd Amateur Championship.

Rebula sealed the double for GolfRSA when he defeated Irishman Robin Dawson in the 36-hole final at Royal Aberdeen on Saturday, just four days after fellow GolfRSA National Squad player Wilco Nienaber became the first South African to take the Leading Amateur honour in the 36-hole stroke play qualifier.


PHOTOS – The 2018 Amateur champion Jovan Rebula; credit Getty Images.

Prior to Rebula’s triumph, Bobby Cole was the only South African to claim the coveted Amateur Championship title, winning at Carnoustie in 1966, and since then South Africa has lost out in four subsequent finals.

In 1980, David Suddards lost at Royal Porthcawl. Ben Fouchee lost at Royal Porthcawl in 1988, Trevor Immelman at Royal St. George’s in 1997 and Zander Lombard at Royal Portrush in 2014.

With a combination of exquisite bunker shots, brilliant chips and a handful of clutch putts in windy conditions at the Balgownie Links, the 20-year-old Rebula ended the winning drought when he beat Dawson 3 & 2 – the same winning margin that won Bobby Cole the coveted trophy at Carnoustie in 1966.

“I’m very happy and very pleased with myself, the way I handled myself this week,” said the Auburn University student, who earned a berth in The Open Championship at Carnoustie next month, as well as trips to the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2019.

“I’ve really been playing solid and haven’t made many mistakes this week. It’s a huge honour for me to call myself the Amateur champion. It’s something out of this world.”

Rebula’s accuracy off the tee and the calm of fellow GolfRSA National Squad player Matt Saulez on the bag proved a lethal combination as Dawson struggled with distance control. A flurry of poor shots from the Irishman netted Rebula a 1-up lead into the final 18 holes.

“I played really well in the morning and got it to 3-up through seven holes or so,” said the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member. “I felt unbelievably calm and I really just enjoyed it out there. Matt and I talked about keeping the hammer down and the momentum going. Having him on the bag over the last few rounds was a great experience. I can’t thank him enough.

“Walking to the first tee this morning, I saw my old teammate Kyle McClatchie, who was in the GolfRSA Squad with me and is playing on the pro circuit now. Kyle had a tournament here in Scotland and swung by to watch me play.

“And Malcolm (Mitchell) and our manager Davey Younge was out there too. Just small things like that really meant the world to me. These are friends for life and having them out there rooting for me was very special.

“We all had lunch together and we talked about stuff that kept my mind off the golf. Going into the last 18 I felt really good. I’ve been hitting the ball unbelievably well and I think the difference was that I was putting a little better in the last round.”

Four bogeys and a concession at the fifth gave Rebula a 5-up lead through 23 holes, but the reigning Flogas Irish Open amateur hung tough.

When Rebula missed a short putt on 13 and another to clinch the match at 14, Dawson won 15 with a fantastic up-and-down to cut the South African’s lead to three.

“I holed a 30-foot putt at nine to go 5-up, but that’s also tough,” Rebula said. “The margin is so big and you don’t know if you should put your foot on the pedal or on the brake. In my mind, I made the biggest putt of the tournament at 11 (par three). I hit it to 40 foot and had a 10-footer left for par. When Robin made par, I had to sink the putt. I holed it and that’s when I thought this tournament is mine.

“I didn’t play 13 well. I got too emotional and started thinking about closing it out and it came back to bite me. I ended up missing a five-foot putt for double bogey. I had the opportunity to close out the match at 14 but my four-footer horse–shoed back to me.

“That was brutal because all you want to do is close it out and your mind does crazy things. Then I had a plugged lie in the bunker at 15 and made another double. Rob made par to win the hole. Then Matt told me to forget about everything and just play the hole.”

Rebula responded with another majestic shot from the greenside bunker at 16 and holed a six-foot putt for par to halve the hole and celebrate victory.

“I hit a tee shot down the fairway and ended up pulling it into the greenside bunker. That’s when I told myself, ‘If you want to win this, you need to get this close.’ I hit it to six foot, holed the putt and got the job done.”

Rebula accomplished something his famous uncle, four-time Major champion Ernie Els, couldn’t accomplish in three tries. Els played a part in the final at Royal Porthcawl in 1988, when he caddied for Fouche.

“I have a tight relationship with my uncle Ernie and he is always motivating me,” Rebula said. “He said this would open doors for me and told me to go out there, to have fun and grab the opportunity with both hands. He’s awesome. Just a great human being.”

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA.

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