South Africa’s Freddie Tait Cup winner Jayden Schaper is Shape of Things to Come

Jayden Schaper (left) with the Freddie Tait Cup and 2020 South African Open winner Branden Grace
Jayden Schaper (left) with the Freddie Tait Cup as the leading amateur and South African Open winner Branden Grace. Picture by GOLFRSA

SOUTH African Amateur Jayden Schaper chipped in at the last to end a remarkable week at the South African Open.

The 18-year-old’s 13-under total left him in a share of sixth place, alongside fellow South Africans George Coetzee, Hennie du Plessis, JC Ritchie and Martin Rohwer, and the 2015 champion Andy Sullivan.

But more importantly Schaper picked up the Freddie Tait Cup – named in honour of the two-time Amateur Champion, who played some of his golf while stationed at Hampshire’s Aldershot Garrison in the 1890s.

After being paired with defending champion Louis Oosthuizen over the first two rounds, the GolfRSA No. 1 shot rounds of 65 and 67 to go into the weekend just one off the lead.

A round of 69 on moving day despite a cold putter saw the teenager start the final round just three shots behind Oosthuizen who was looking to become the first South African to defend the title since Trevor Immelman in 2004.

Although Schaper couldn’t match legendary Denis Hutchinson – who won both trophies in 1959 – Schaper became the fourth-highest amateur finisher in the SA Open.

Four-time Major winner Ernie Els finished fourth at Glendower in the 1989 South African Open.

Shaper, who won three times as an amateur in 2019, was delighted by his finish:

“It’s a huge privilege to be mentioned in the same breath as four-time Major winner Els,” said Schaper.

“That’s a pretty big name. Ernie is someone I’ve looked up to because he has been one of the most consistent golfers to play the game.

“It’s pretty cool to see my name up there with his and other names like that,” added Schaper.

“It was a special week, and one that I’ll never forget.”

Like Grace, who surged to victory with a closing nine-under 62, to win his national open and complete the “South African Slam”, this weekend’s tournament is the one Schaper also wants to win.

“I really want to win this one,” said Jayden. “Seeing Branden coming down the stretch holing putts, watching Louis win last year and so many great South African golfers in the past – I also want my name on the big trophy.”

Records are important to Schaper – the only golfer in history to record the ‘Grand Slam’ of South African Junior National titles.

Last March, he shot a course record 62 to win the South African Strokeplay Championship, at De Zalze Golf Club.

He also became the first South African winner of the prestigious Junior Players Championship, at TPC Sawgrass, last year.

“I like achieving records,” Schaper admitted. “Now I’ve won the Freddie Tait Cup, winning the South African Amateur at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington next month is high on my bucket list.

“It’s the only one left before I will look at joining the pro ranks.

“I’ll be gunning for in the future and it will be so much more special because of the memories created this week.

The list of past winners of the Freddie Tait Cup is a Who’s Who of South African golfing greats and includes Bobby Locke – who won the South African Open eight times – Jock Verwey, Denis Hutchison, Dale Hayes and Ernie Els, the winner in 1989.

More recently Trevor Immelman – who claimed the Green Jacket at the 2008 Masters, Charl Schwartzel – who won at Augusta in 2011, Hennie Otto, Branden Grace, and Brandon Stone have won the Freddie Tait Cup.

The trophy was purchased using money left over after a trip to South Africa by some UK golfers in 1928. It bears the R&A Club die and crest, and the medal die of the Army Golfing Society.

The following year the Freddie Tait Cup was awarded to Bernard Wynne as the leading amateur in the South African Open.

The South African Open dates back to 1903, making it the third oldest professional championship in the world of golf. Gary Player has won the trophy 13 times – four more than Locke.

Sid Brews is the next most successful South African in the event’s 118-year history with eight victories followed by Els with five – the last in 2010.

Scotland’s George Fortheringham won the title five times between 1908 and 1914 and he is still the most successful player in the competition from outside South Africa.

How Freddie Tait put Hampshire golf on map

Freddie Tait winner of the 1896 Amateur Championship
Freddie Tait pictured with The Amateur Championship trophy in 1896

BLACK Watch solider Freddie Tait – after winning the inaugural Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship in 1894 – was killed in the Boer War in 1900.

He was buried at Koodoosberg having been one of the longest hitters in golf at the end of the 19th Century.

Tait finished third at The Open in 1896 and 1897 and was the leading amateur three times in the championship between 1891 and 1899.

His father Peter was a physicist who carried out some of the early research into how far a golf ball could travel.

Tait, who was a member at St Andrews and won many of its medals and trophies, once hit the ball 340 yards on a very icy Old Course – after it carried 250 yards in the cold air in 1893.

He was a regular visitor to Royal St George’s – not only did he win the 1896 Amateur Championship there, Tait also claimed the St George’s Grand Challenge three times in four years at Sandwich – the last time a year before his untimely death in the Second Boer War.

His second Amateur crown had been claimed at Royal Liverpool in 1898. A memorial plaque to his (and his father’s) memory stands on the inner north wall of St Johns Episcopal Church on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

Tait played golf in Hampshire while a member at Aldershot’s Army Golf Club having been sent to the Royal Military College, at nearby Sandhurst, in Berkshire – he is said to have introduced the game of golf as part of life at the officers’ training academy.

Interestingly, other top Hampshire golfers have blossomed at both Hoylake and Royal St George’s like Tait.

Future Ryder Cup player Steve Richardson won the English Amateur at Sandwich in 1989, beating county team-mate Bobby Eggo in the final, while in 2017, Harry Ellis claimed the Amateur Championship, like Tait, at Royal St George’s.

Rowlands Castle’s Darren Wright – one of only 10 players to have won both the Brabazon and Carris Trophies in their amateur career, claimed the English Men’s Open Amateur Strokeplay at Royal Liverpool in 2010, having won the Boys’ title at Sherwood Forest four years earlier.

And Army Golf Club member Sam Robertshawe, who is now playing on the European Challenge and PGA EuroPro Tour, also won the St George’s Grand Challenge and the South East of England Links Trophy at Sandwich, in 2011.

The former Hampshire Boys champion has his name on the stunning gold trophy alongside a certain Jack Nicklaus – who won at Royal St George’s in 1959 when he travelled to the UK before playing in the Walker Cup, at Muirfield.

The South East of England Links is played over 72 holes – with three rounds at the host course, including 36 holes on the final day, with 18 holes at the other course.

Royal St George’s and Royal Cinque Ports, just down the Kent coast at Deal, alternate being the host venue.

Past winners of the St George’s Grand Challenge, include John Davies, who holds the records for six successive wins, Phillip Scrutton, Captain David Blair – who was a member at North Hants GC, and postwar Walker Cup player and captain Laddy Lucas, who was a member at Prince’s.

The St George’s Grand Challenge goes to the winner at Sandwich, while the Deal champion receives the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, which was won by European Challenge Tour winner Steve Tiley, a member at the host club, in 2003.

The Prince of Wales has been won by the likes Lee Westwood and great amateurs such as Kent Walker Cup player Peter Hedges – a member at Royal Cinque Ports, as well as Blair, Davies, Scrutton and Lucas, who famously landed his damaged Spitfire on Prince’s Himalaya course during WWII, returning from a mission over Northern France.

This year’s South East of England Links Championship will be played from September 3-5. The championship was won by Chelmsford’s Jack Brown at Royal Cinque Ports, in 2019.

•For the 2019 results click here.

2011 St George’s Grand Challenge winner Sam Robertshawe
Sam Robertshawe with St George’s Grand Challenge Trophy after his victory at Royal St George’s in 2011

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