Dawie makes his own magic for Madiba title
DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal (14 December 2013) – It was always going to be a special week. But Dawie van der Walt had no idea it would be this special.
With a final round of 66, Van Der Walt won the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa on a 54-hole total of 15 under par at Mount Edgecombe Country Club on Saturday. He finished two strokes clear of Matthew Baldwin and Jorge Campillo, and claimed his second victory on the European Tour this year after winning the Tshwane Open early in 2013.
With his victory he also won the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, overtaking Darren Fichardt in the final tournament of the season.
It was an incredible finish to a year which began so promisingly for him when he won his first European Tour event, and which then hit rock bottom in the middle when an ankle injury combined with poor form for the worst few months of his career.
Van Der Walt came into this tournament hoping to just find his game and play half decent golf. And as has been the case with the entire country, he found a world of inspiration in chasing a title that, finishing on the eve of the state funeral of Nelson Mandela, will always be a historic one.
“This is so small compared to what Nelson Mandela did,” Van Der Walt said. “But it makes it a little more special. You can win the Nelson Mandela Championship in 10 years time, but this one will always be a special one.”
He and his wife, Bobby-Jo, had spoken of how significant it would be for him to win this event at such a critical time in South Africa’s history.
“We just knew it would be special for him to win it. Dawie kept telling me how much he wanted to do it,” she said, recalling how she first learnt of the story of Nelson Mandela in a Louisiana school classroom and never imagining it would ever coincide with this day.
For Van Der Walt, the victory was a justification on so many levels. “Winning once is great, but to be able to win again justifies that I can do it. You feel like you belong.”
It was also justification that he could pick himself up from the lowest point in his career. “I was feeling so confident after I won Tshwane Open, then I went to Europe and I struggled because my expectations were high but my game wasn’t quite there. Then I went back to America and I sprained my ankle. It put my golf swing in positions I didn’t like because I was compensating for it. But I had to keep pushing. What other choice do you have? This is my job. There was a lot of hard work, a lot of analysing your swing, and sleepless nights and trying to figure out where I went wrong. I was finishing last in tournaments. But I just didn’t give up.”
With his victory came a prized artwork of Mandela and bearing his signature. “It’s very unique and I’ll put it where I can see it a lot and it can remind me of a time in my career when I was down and I got back up.”
After finishing off the suspended second round earlier on Saturday, Van Der Walt had about three hours to kill before the start of the third and final round.
He found a corner in the lockerroom and had a sleep.
When he woke up, the dream was only beginning.
Young stars given chance to shine in Nelson Mandela Championship
DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal (13 December 2013) – In Germany he’s known as “Das Wunderkind”, but the nickname given to 16-year-old amateur sensation Dominic Foos could just as easily apply to the group of five young golfers who were invited to compete in this week’s Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.
Foos is joined at Mount Edgecombe by South African amateurs Thriston Lawrence and Louis Taylor as well as rookie professionals Brandon Stone and Haydon Porteous for this European Tour and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournament.
Their presence in the field is a direct commitment to the youth of golf through the vision of Mandela to uplift all youth, and the commitment of this tournament to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
All five golfers are seen as future champions, with Stone and Porteous both campaigning through invitations on the European Tour this season following impressive amateur careers; while Taylor recently finished as the leading amateur in the South African Open; Lawrence became the youngest winner of the Sanlam SA Amateur Open at 16 years, two months and 26 days; and Foos has risen to become Germany’s top-ranked amateur golfer and the number one under-15 golfer in the world. Foos finished tied 39th in last year’s Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa, shooting rounds of 64 and 65 in the 36-hole tournament, making him the youngest golfer to finish in the top-40 on the European Tour.
All have a story not unfamilair to the likes of respected PGA Tour coach Mark Immelman, the older brother of former Masters champion Trevor Immelman. Immelman is back in South Africa caddying for Sunshine Tour professional Andrew Georgiou, and has been impressed with the young talent he’s seen.
“I think what’s struck me the most is how young they are and also how mature they are. The young golfers on the Sunshine Tour are so much more professional about their craft. They’re working hard, and it confirms my belief that most of them can compete anywhere in the world,” said Immelman.
If he could give one piece of technical advice to the five young golfers playing in terms of what will get them to the PGA Tour one day, Immelman singles out the short game. “You need to be so good with a wedge and putter from inside 100 yards to make it on the PGA Tour.”
Stone in particular has caught Immelman’s eye. “Brandon is a really good one. He’s so poised for such a young man. You see, very few golfers have that pure physical gift that separates them from the rest, such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Henrik Stenson. When they hit the ball, they turn heads. For the rest, you really need a lot of the other attributes such as the mental strength and so on.”
As for how good is good enough to make it onto the PGA Tour, Immelman has a simple way of putting it.
“The only difference between the Sunshine Tour and PGA Tour is the depth of playing standard. The competition is so deep on the PGA Tour that you must be able to handle adversity and be ready to take your lumps.
“People don’t realise how good you have to be, to be bad on the PGA Tour.”
In the life of a nation there emerges an individual in whose visionary wisdom, the country finds its way clear, to re-invent itself and reclaim unreserved acceptance amongst the free nations of the world.
South Africa’s founding democracy president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, was such a man. The giant not only helped the nation leap over its ugly past, but also proved to have broad shoulders on which many causes found their feet to see swift and far in the belief that we can change the world.
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund ranks amongst those causes. In the footsteps of this giant, are clear sign posts to follow to make the world safer to live in and for children to imagine the best that childhood dreams of.
Thanks to all for sharing this great life with us.
Chief Executive Officer
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund
2013 Nelson Mandela Championship
Dr Handa, ISPS Handa CEO
The Nelson Mandela Championship, presented by ISPS Handa, a new professional golf tournament is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine tour.
The €1-million 72-hole tournament will be the first event on the 2013 European Tour International schedule and will also be the kick-off to the 2013 Race to Dubai. The field of 156 professionals will be made up of equal numbers from both the Sunshine and European Tours and will feature some of the world’s leading and up-and-coming professional golfers.
The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust
In 1995, Mr Mandela established the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund – the first charity he established after his inauguration as President of South Africa.
Then, in 2007, he challenged his wife, Mrs Graça Machel, and the trustees of the Fund to expand into children’s health – more specifically, to offer the
children of Southern Africa a state of the art hospital. This led to the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust. The Trust is
currently fundraising to build this much-needed centre of excellence, which will be a specialist facility where no child will be turned away due to
inability to pay.