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Foos Has A Ball In Qatar

by Colin Callander - February 3, 2014

German teenager Dominic Foos caused a bit of a stir when he finished in a tie for 16th place against the leading professionals at the recent Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha.

The 16-year-old from St Leon-Rot Golf Club, near Heidelberg, eagled the last to finish just six shots behind winner Sergio García, and in the process added a new chapter to what is rapidly becoming a glittering amateur career.

Foos first made international headlines in 2010 and 2011 when he travelled to Scotland to claim back-to-back titles in the under-13 and under-14 age groups in the US Kids European Championship at Gullane (winning by nine and 11 shots, respectively) and subsequently he has continued to set new standards with a series of impressive displays all over Europe.

In April 2012, Foos became the youngest winner of the German Men’s Match Play Championship and later that summer he was to go on to complete an unprecedented national treble when he added both the German Boys’ International and Stroke Play titles to his name.

During 2012, the precocious German teenager also won the Portuguese International Amateur and finished sixth in the German Amateur Stroke Play Championship before helping St Leon-Rot to win the German Club Championship. His form was rewarded when he was selected to represent Europe in both the Jacques Léglise Trophy and the Junior Ryder Cup.

Dominic Foos, 16, added to his brilliant amateur career when he finished T16 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha

Foos had got down to a scratch handicap for the first time at the age of 12 and three years later he was playing off plus-6 as he started 2013 by becoming the youngest winner of the French International Boys’ Championship (Carlhian Trophy). He also defended his title at the German Boys’ International Championship – this time by a 12-shot margin – before emerging undefeated in the singles for the second year in a row at the Jacques Léglise Trophy match against GB&I.

One man who has had a front-row seat during the young German’s development is national junior coach Ulrich Eckhardt, and he is not in the least surprised that his protégé has achieved so much success in such a short space of time.

“The first time I saw him was four years ago at the German Boys’ Championship,” said Eckhardt. “He was only 12 at the time but even then he looked very special as he proved at the end of the week by winning the under-14 age group title.

“I put him straight into the German junior squad and he hasn’t looked back since. His great strength is that he hasn’t got any weaknesses. He hits the ball well and he’s professional in everything he does.”

“He’s got an old head on young shoulders,” he added. “He’s prepared to listen and to learn and that’s not always the case with kids of his age. He’s a bit like a sponge. He absorbs everything and then uses it when he needs to.”

Former Amateur champion Peter McEvoy has also watched a lot of Foos in his capacity of chairman of the GB&I junior selectors and he has been equally impressed by the young German.

“I’m not surprised Dominic did so well in Qatar,” said McEvoy. “I have seen a fair bit of him over the last couple of years and he looks like the real deal.

“I think there are two continental players who stand out at the moment and they are Foos and Renato Paratore from Italy. They both look as if they’ve got what it takes to go right to the top.”

The word from the German camp is that Foos will play as an amateur for the rest of the 2014 season before deciding whether or not to switch to the professional ranks at the end of the year.

“It’s a bit up in the air at the moment,” said Eckhardt. “Dominic is going to play the amateur circuit this summer and then decide what to do after that.

“I know he wants to get into the German Eisenhower Cup team. He will be playing much the same schedule as last year although he won’t be at the British Boys’ at Prestwick because it clashes with the Youth Olympics in China and he’s already committed to that.

“It’s a shame because I’ve played Prestwick dozens of times and so could tell him exactly where not to go.”

Foos’ next competitive appearance is likely to be at this month’s Spanish Men’s Amateur Championship at La Reserva and he has also been named in the European squad that will face Asia Pacific in the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy at Karnataka Golf Association golf course, India, in March.

English international Jordan Smith will be hoping it is a case of being third time lucky when he tees up in this week’s Asian Tour Stage 1 Qualifying School event at Imperial Lakeview Golf Club in Thailand.

The 21-year-old Walker Cup player from Wellingborough missed out on a tour card at both this year’s European Tour and Sunshine Tour Qualifying Schools but hopes he can make it through Stage 1 at Lakeview and then claim an Asian Tour card by finishing in the top 40 and ties at the subsequent Final Qualifying School at Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal on Feb. 12-15.

Smith played in all three of this year’s qualifying schools as an amateur and has stated he will not relinquish that status unless he makes the grade in Asia.

“If it doesn’t go to plan I would stay amateur for the year and play all the top amateur events I played last year and continue with the England squad,” he told his local Wiltshire Gazette & Herald newspaper.

“I have been working hard on my putting because that was the one thing that let me down in the Walker (Cup) and some of the other amateur events last year.”

The reigning Brabazon Trophy champion is one of more than 40 Englishmen to have entered this year’s Asian Tour qualifying. That group includes former international Craig Hinton, who turned professional last autumn after an illustrious amateur career during which he won 2012 Welsh Open Amateur Stroke Play and represented GB&I at the 2012 St Andrews Trophy.

The popularity of the Asian Tour is such that this year’s Q-School attracted more than 700 entries from all over the world. Japan (94) has the highest number of participants in the three Stage 1 events followed by Australia (82), Korea (82), the United States (63), England (41), Thailand (40) and Chinese Taipei (31).

Leona and Lisa Maguire have announced they have signed letters of intent to join Duke University in North Carolina this autumn.

The Curtis Cup duo from Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan, told Brian Keogh of the Irish Golf Desk they see playing collegiate golf as the ideal preparation for a career on the LPGA Tour.

“We have four years at Duke and after playing against that calibre of golfer week in and week out we will have a definite indication about whether we are ready to turn pro,” said Leona. “Playing against some of the best players in the world can only help your game.

“We noticed that in the summer. You really could tell the difference between the college players and those who hadn’t played in college. It’s like a mini-tour in itself.”

Dan Brooks, the head coach at Duke, believes it is a major coup to be able to sign the experienced Irish twins but admits it might give him an initial problem.

“Because they are identical twins, both playing golf at a high level, it has been difficult for me to distinguish between the two,” he said.

“But from what I have gleaned so far, Lisa is the slightly more gregarious of the two.”

The Maguire twins join a strong Duke squad that includes 2012 European Ladies’ champion Céline Boutier, and Chinese duo Yu Liu and Yi Xiao. Liu was a semifinalist in the 2011 US Girls’ Junior Championship.

Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil and Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson head a squad of 10 Scottish amateurs competing in this week’s South African Amateur Stroke Play at Benoni Country Club near Johannesburg.

The reigning Scottish and British Boys’ champions join compatriots Scott Borrowman, Scott Gibson, Ben Kinsley, Robert MacIntyre, Graeme Robertson, Jamie Savage, Connor Syme and Daniel Young in a strong international field that also includes England’s Toby Tree and Irishmen Robbie Cannon, Jack Hume, Gary Hurley, Geoff Lenehan, Dermot McElroy, Rory McNamara, Chris Selfridge and Reeve Whitson.

France is also well represented by a 12-man contingent comprising Matthieu Caron, Alexandre Daydou, Mathieu Decottignies-Lafon, Edgar Catherine, Paul Elissalde, Joris Etlin, Romain Langasque, Thomas Le Berre, Leo Mathard, David Ravetto, Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret. Other foreign entrants include Edouard Amacher, Neal Woernhard and Joel Girrbach from Swizterland, Serbia’s Čedomir Ilić and Charlie Spencer-White from Wales.

The championship was won for the last two years by former South African No. 1 amateur Haydn Porteous, but he has now turned professional. In his absence the home challenge will be headed by Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Zander Lombard, Thriston Lawrence and NJ Arnoldi, who currently occupy the top four places on the South African Golf Association’s rankings.

The 19-year-old Bezuidenhout makes no secret of the fact the South Africans are determined to keep the trophy within their own country.

“The SA Stroke Play is one of the two most prestigious tournaments on the South African amateur circuit,” said the Ekurhuleni golfer. “We expect tough opposition from the visitors but we are determined to follow in Hadyn’s footsteps and keep the record going.

“Benoni has been a regular stop on our junior and senior circuit for years now and I think local knowledge will work in our favour. That, combined with our fighting spirit, should give us the edge over the foreigners,” he added.

The Scottish contingent began what has become an annual trip to the Rainbow Nation by competing in the Gauteng North Open and after the South African Stroke Play will play in a test match against South Africa at Leopard Creek before completing their trip by teeing up in the Sanlam South African Amateur at Hermanus.

Michael Stewart defeated Paul Shields in an all-Scottish final of the latter championship in 2011.

“Returning to South Africa provides valuable experience for our players, especially the younger ones, both on and off the course,” said Scottish Golf performance manager Steve Paulding. “It also gives them competitive opportunities at this time of year ahead of the new domestic season.

“A number of players in last year’s men’s squad didn’t reach the standards we hoped in the leading individual events at British and European level,” he added. “We hope to see an improvement in 2014. We have an exciting group of young players coming through and they, like our more experienced players, will be looking to challenge for a place in our Eisenhower Trophy team in Japan in September.”

This year’s Gauteng North Open was won by South African Keegan de Lange, who carded rounds of 72, 70, 73 and 67 to finish a single shot ahead of Lawrence on 8-underpar 283. Neil was the leading Scot in a share of third place alongside Arnoldi while Savage was tied eighth and MacIntyre and Young finished in a share of 21st place.

English international Tree finished a creditable tied eighth alongside Savage while bidding to win the title for a third year in a row.

The 10-man Scottish squad visiting South Africa features no less than six teenagers. Ferguson, Kinsley and MacIntyre are the youngest of the bunch at 17 while Neil and Syme are 18 and Savage is 19. Gibson is 21 and Young 22, while Robertson and Borrowman are the veterans in the group at 25 and 26, respectively.

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