The boys from Brisbane on top

Tim Glover reports from Sunningdale, where golf's young generation tested their appetite for competition
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The Independent Online
There is a strictly enforced rule. No parents are allowed to caddie for their children. Less tension, less pressure and faster rounds. Yesterday three young Australians, carrying their own bags and making their own decisions, won the Golf Foundation team championship for schools over the Old Course here.

The championship, first played in 1972, tended to be shared between the four home countries, but Sweden won it three times in a row from 1987 and France, through the Lyce Bellevue, a school of excellence, dominated. They took the title five years on the trot from 1990, but yesterday a school from Down Under came out on top.

Some 2,000 schools from around the world competed in qualifying rounds and Australia were represented by three pupils of Kelvin Grove State High School, from Brisbane in Queensland. Players have to be under 18 with a handicap of 18 or better. However, for the championship they play off scratch although girls receive four shots.

For the first time a team from South Africa competed in the international final, but it was the boys from Brisbane who lifted the Royal and Ancient trophy, giving Australia its first success in the competition. With each score counting, Travis Johns, aged 17, Emmet Ryan, 18, and David Nendick, 16, scored 70, 73; 75, 73; and 77, 71 respectively for a grand total of 439.

They finished seven strokes in front of the Lyce Bellevue, followed by Germany on 460, New Zealand on 465, England on 466 and Ireland on 468. The Kelvin Grove High School, which specialises in golf, rugby and ballet, allows its pupils to practise for three days a week at a public course under the supervision of Ian Triggs, the man who coaches Peter Senior.

The team arrived in England on 7 May and have been playing Royal St George's, The Belfry and Wentworth. Nendick, whose family emigrated to Brisbane from Newcastle in 1986, was asked if Greg Norman was his role model. "No, I hate that sort of stuff," he said. "There's no one player. We take in everything."

On a course where Bobby Jones shot 66 and 68 in qualifying rounds for the Open Championship in June 1926, the award for the best individual performance went to Olivier David of the Lyce. He finished two over par following rounds of 73 and 69. Yesterday he carded eight threes, had four birdies on the front nine and went out in 32. His 69 included a seven at the 14th.

David received the award from Ronan Rafferty, the European Tour player who competed in the championship at the age of 14 and broke 70. "I was lucky enough to come up through the system," Rafferty said.

While the Australians were unanimous in their ambition to become professional golfers, the German team harboured no such thoughts. "This was an enjoyable experience and it was more of a challenge to play against the boys," 16- year-old Victoria Smolin said, "but I want to study. I have no intention of playing golf for a living."

Sunningdale had a fire near the 10th hole last week and it took four days to put out so there was another rule in force: no smoking on the course. It may irritate some of the members but it was superfluous to the younger generation. Still, a few of them had to be reminded to remove their caps in the dining room.

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