She might not be a household name just yet, but Woo-Ju Son from Gauteng is certainly one of South Africa’s brightest prospects. And she will be taking a boatload of confidence to the prestigious Duke of York Young Champions in England next month after she seized her eighth victory this season in the Southern Cape Women’s Open this past Sunday.
Over the last eight months, the petite Son has dominated the women’s amateur circuit with success on both the junior and senior women’s amateur circuit.
This past weekend was no exception. In another unrivalled performance at Mossel Bay Golf Club, Son triumphed on even par 216, finishing eight strokes clear of Caitlyn Macnab from Ekurhuleni and 10 shots ahead of Border’s Zethu Myeki.
The only player to break par in the first round, the 16-year-old from Country Club Johannesburg fired a one under 71 that featured a pair of birdies and an eagle at the par four 10th. Myeki posted 74, while fellow Border golfer Demi Flanagan shared third on 75 with South Africa’s top ranked senior Kajal Mistry from Gauteng.
Myeki and Lenanda van der Watt from Gauteng North led the field in round two with a pair of 74s.
Son backpedalled slightly with a 75, but she still carried a two shot lead into the final round and produced six birdies to offset four bogeys for a two under par 70 – one of just two sub-par rounds on the final day.
Macnab shot 71 to move to second, and Myeki from the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation closed out third place on 226 with a 78.
With the Garden Route success, Son returned to number one in the Junior rankings, but still trails Mistry from Randpark, who held her top spot in the Senior standings with a fourth place finish.
Son will be making her debut in the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy alongside the men’s top junior Jayden Schaper from Ekurhuleni at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Wirral from 12-14 September.
“The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy is hosted by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew and entry into this prominent international 54-hole stroke play championship is by invitation only,” said Womens Golf South Africa president Sally Greasley.
“It’s a select field comprising the 2017 winners of Under-18 National Championships around the world, as well as players who won selected major golfing events the preceding year. Woo-Ju qualified by way of her Nomads SA Girls Championship victory and Jayden earned his entry as the Nomads Boys Under-19 champion.
“The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy is always hosted at Open Championship venues and we are so grateful for the opportunity afforded South Africa to give our top juniors the chance to compete against a high quality field in a world class international event.”
Greasley believes a trip to Scotland last year played a big role in Son’s dramatic rise this season.
“Woo-Ju and Christo Lamprecht competed in the R&A Junior Championship last year,” she said. “This event is played biennially and serves as the curtain-raiser to the Open Championship. The R&A invites its 152 affiliates to enter their leading boy and girl golfers aged 16 and under.
“Last year’s event drew 152 competitors from a record 80 countries and Woo-Ju gained a lot of experience. Rubbing shoulders with the cream in junior golf certainly spurred her on to reach for greater heights and she has certainly excelled this season.
“Competing in the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy is another unique opportunity for Woo-Ju and Jayden to further their skills and test themselves on a world class stage.”
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.