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Vorster flies the flag for South Africa at the Home of Golf

July 25 2018

The Eden Course provided the perfect stage for some late drama as South Africa’s Martin Vorster survived a major scare to claim The Junior Open, his first-ever major international title.

The 16-year-old, who is part of the Louis Oosthuizen Academy, was five shots clear of the field after opening rounds of 66 and 65 but after a solid start to his final round he found sand off the tee on the 346-yard par-4 7th on his way to running up a triple bogey seven.

The South African’s lead was suddenly cut to two but he showed composure beyond his years to post a four-over-par 74 to clinch his wire-to-wire win and become the first South African to win the championship.

“That was a nervous moment,” he admitted. “I made a very stupid triple bogey but I told myself I was still in the lead and to forget about it and focus on the next shot. 
“This win means a lot to me and especially because I came in here having finished second in my last two starts. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever make the breakthrough so I admit I’m a bit emotional at the moment.
“I don’t really know what to say. It’s very special to win The Junior Open and all the more so because it’s here at the Home of Golf. You can’t get much better than that.”

Vorster’s closing 74 saw him finish on five-under-par 205 and one shot ahead of 14-year-old Japanese player Tsubasa Kajitani, who in front of a large crowd birdied two of her last three holes to card a level par 70. Further down the leaderboard Gordan Brixi from the Czech Republic closed with a six-under-par 64 and his low round of the tournament was enough to see him move up to fourth place on two-under- par 208. World No. 12 Atthiya Thitikul from Thailand also played her best golf of the championship in a two-under-par 68 which moved her up into a share of fifth place with Argentina’s Abel Gallegos on 209 while Australia’s Thomas Heaton posted a level par 70 to finish seventh one shot further behind.

Vorster’s clinched victory over a record entry of 142 emerging boy and girl golfers from 78 countries, who all competed in the first Junior Open to be contested in St Andrews, on the eve of The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

Founded in 1994 and coming under The R&A's administrative umbrella in 2000, the Junior Open is played in the days leading up to The Open, and at a nearby course. Previous Junior Open winners include reigning Masters champion, Patrick Reed, 2013 LPGA Rookie of the Year, Moriya Jutanugarn and Portugal’s Pedro Lencart Silva, who followed up his win at Kilmarnock (Barassie) in 2016 by lifting the 2017 Boys Amateur title. Other leading golfers who have featured in the Junior Open include Champion Golfers of the Year Jordan Spieth (2017), Rory McIlroy (2014) and 2010 US Women’s Open Champion, Paula Creamer.
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