Sir Nick Faldo and Ernie Els are bringing together teams from their respective foundations, the Faldo Series and the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, together with a team from the South African Golf Development Board and they will compete in a unique event to promote boys and girls golf globally and develop tomorrow’s champions.
The competition, sponsored by Plastomark and hosted by the Major champions themselves will feature international teams of boys and girls competing on 8th and 9th of January at the Ernie Els Signature design The Els Club at Copperleaf. The individual winner of the 36-hole stroke-play event will get to play in the Pro-Am of the BMW SA Open Championship the following day.
Speaking from Herold’s Bay near George, Ernie Els said, “Sir Nick and I have spoken many times over the years about creating an event that provides our members and others with a great opportunity to compete with other international elite amateurs. This first event in South Africa fulfils that role. Also, more importantly, it enables our members to embrace new experiences, cultures and friendships. It is about developing the ‘whole’ rather than just one element of their games.”
Faldo, who is keen to see the event grow, said, “Ernie and I have long discussed an event which includes South Africa and further globalizes junior golf. We are planting an acorn and we expect an oak tree will grow. Our Faldo Series, which includes participation from players in Europe, the US, Asia, Australia and South America, now includes another continent.
“Ernie and I share an interest in the future of this game and he is a true role model through his work for young people. Together we want to lead a collaboration which creates future heroes and corporate commitment to junior golf.”
Els went on to say, “Thanks to Wolfgang Raffalsky of Plastomark, a dear friend and long-time supporter of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, we have been able to turn this dream into a reality.
“We are also very grateful to The Els Club at Copperleaf for hosting the tournament. This course is particularly close to my heart as it is built on land where my grandfather Ernie Vermaak once farmed. It has hosted the Tshwane Open, a tournament co-sanctioned by the European and Sunshine Tours, so certainly has the pedigree to host these young stars of the future.”
The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation team will include Els’ nephew and former SA No 1 amateur Jovan Rebula, who is in his freshman year at Auburn University in Alabama. Also in the team are Siyanda Mwandla of Durban, Zethu Myeki of East London and SA Ladies Stroke Play Champion Kaleigh Telfer.
The Faldo team will include Harry Goddard of England and Kaitlyn Papp of the USA, both multiple Faldo Series Grand Finalists, as well as the 2016 Faldo Series Europe overall champion Jiri Ziska from the Czech Republic. Nicola Slater of England, the Faldo Series Grand Final Girls U16 winner completes the line-up.
The South African Golf Development Board team will feature 20-year-old Neswill Croy, as well as the No 1 junior in the Southern Cape, Franklin Manchest. Young Crystal Beukes from Stellenbosch and 17-year-old Jamie-Lee Daniels from the Eastern Cape complete the team.
Speaking on behalf of sponsors Plastomark, Wolfgang Raffalsky said, “We are delighted to be able to support this wonderful event. I have long admired the work that the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation does – especially as education plays such an important role in what it sets out to achieve for its members.”
Six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo will then join tournament host Ernie Els and World No 2 Rory McIlroy in the field of the 106th BMW South African Open later in the week at Glendower Golf Club.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching thousands of golfers each year. Past winners include Major Champions Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, who took his tally of professional Major titles to four with his wins at the 2014 Open Championship and US PGA Championship.