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Back You are here: Home Sports Golf W-Cape Golf: Luca Filippi, West Coast’s rising young star
Monday, 24 November 2014 09:42

Golf: Luca Filippi, West Coast’s rising young star

Written by  Jaco Zeeman

Our exposure to cartoons, comic book heroes and animated television series has made us accustomed to expecting the bad guy to be lurking around in the darkness, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce. However, if you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of a golf course, putting green or a driving range anywhere in or around Cape Town, it would more than likely be Rondebosch Boys High School, 15-year-old golfing sensation Luca Filippi that you encounter. Sunset has been the signal for the rising young star to start his last half an hour of training, praying for just a little bit more light!

 Luca Filippi GolferFrom a very young age it was clear that he loved playing all kinds of ball sports, including: tennis, table tennis, cricket and of course his true passion, namely golf. Many would possibly have placed their money on Luca becoming a golfer as the youngster was brought up on a golf estate along the West Coast and golf definitely runs in the genes. His father Daniel, plays off a 2 handicap. And all would have been on the money as the youngster started playing the gentleman’s game at the age of 5. He credits his parents who introduced him to the game of golf and said: “the moment I stood on the first tee, I just thought to myself that this was the right sport for me and I became hooked on it ever since”. My dad has definitely been the biggest influence on my progress in the game, his unwavering support, dedication and commitment and his willingness to help out wherever he can, has been pivotal in what I have achieved thus far.”

  

Luca played his first tournament at the tender age of 9. His dad fondly recalls the night before the big day: “Luca asked me if the organisers were going to have ropes on the course. This was a very strange question for me at the time, so I asked him why? He explained that the tournaments on TV all have ropes to prevent the spectators from going onto the fairways. It was at that point when I knew that he was fully mentally prepared and had visualised a large crowd being present, only to be left a little disappointed when he learned that just his dad and a few of the other parents were going to be there.”

Nowadays Luca plays off a plus one handicap and his lowest score for the year is 63. He is a member at Milnerton Golf club which has made him very confident when playing in windy conditions, such as the regular “breeze” that seems to be ever-present at Milnerton. He practices 2 hours a day on average and attributes his success to his ability to remain mentally focused during tournaments. Luca loves the challenge and pressure of playing tournaments, as he loves to compete. His strengths lie in his putting and his accuracy off the tee. He receives coaching at the S.A. Golf institute and is coached by Grant Hepburn. Grant is based at the River Club in Cape Town and has coached Luca for 3 years, helping him with swing changes and correcting his technique when he is struggling. Luca is thoroughly indebted to his coach: “he does a lot for me and has really helped me with my game.”

Away from the Golf course, Luca is a humble and positive person that is always looking to help others. He enjoys spending time with family and friends and is a big Coldplay fan. Being of Italian descent, it is no surprise that his favourite meal includes either pasta or pizza. He is very confident in his golfing abilities and is the type of character who you can count on to fight back when the proverbial chips are down. Luca also confessed that if he was to choose a career where golf was not an option, he would become a professional Table Tennis player, as he really enjoys this game too.

When asked who he looked up to in the golfing world, it was indeed no surprise when he said; “Ernie Els. He has always been my role model. I learn a lot from his attitude and how he goes about his business, particularly to never get ahead of yourself and to always stay humble. From an early age he's had a huge impact on my life, both mentally and physically. A true champion knows how to recover from bad patches and he has always had this inspiring attribute.”

Luca has been very fortunate to have benefited from the generosity and the opportunities provided by the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation. The foundation has provided him with the opportunity to travel to all the national tournaments and compete with the best young golfers around. He is sponsored by Adams Golf, Adidas and TaylorMade, who have supported him enormously over the years with the best possible equipment. Luca adds: “without the sponsors and the EEFF’s support I would not have been able to test myself against top players.”

Luca already boasts a vast array of outstanding achievements realised in his short competitive golfing career. Some of these phenomenal feats include his first major accomplishment namely being crowned S.A. U12 Champion at Kingswood in 2011, being crowned Inter Provincial champion four years in a row, not to mention winning the 2014 edition by a record 14 shot margin at Fish River Country Club.

Luca has also been a Western Province elite squad member since 2012 and has numerous local junior open titles. In 2013, he won the U15 Mini Masters championship at Mowbray Golf Club, Milnerton Mens’ open (T6) and performed admirably in the National Schools Tournaments finishing 4th and 5th, a remarkable achievement considering it included all ages (14-18 year olds). 

This year has seen the talented golfer flourish once more. Luca was placed second at the S.A. Champs, selected for the W.P. U23 team and went on to be selected for the SAGA (South African Golf Association) U23 team. As if these achievements aren’t remarkable enough, Luca is the number one ranked U15 golfer in the country and represented South Africa at the Junior British Open in West Lancashire, in the United Kingdom. A tournament that only sees the top ranked U16 boy and girl from 63 countries invited to play. He was also selected as an Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation member, an honour for any young aspiring South African golfer.

  

Western Province Director of Golf Eric Lefson echoes the sentiment about the talented young golfer: “Luca is one of the most promising golfers to come out of the Western Province ever. If one looks back over the past 20 years his performances are comparable with those of Trevor Immelman, Dylan Raubenheimer and Matthew Kent. All of whom went on to gain full SA colours while still at school.” Lefson also states that, as a 15 year old, he is one of the youngest players to represent WP at U23 level. Highlighting key attributes of Luca, Lefson adds: “He has a very mature approach to the game and always plays with a smile on his face. He has performed very well in national junior and age group tournaments, and has put up some excellent performances overseas in both India and the UK.” Lefson believes that the star-in-the-making would benefit tremendously by playing in more open age-group events against full-grown men, and added: “that being said, when he did play open, he managed an excellent 3rd place in the WP Open Championships, in a field of 180 golfers.”

Luca’s immediate attention and focus will now shift to preparing optimally for an international event in Italy later this year, where he will represent the S.A. U17 team. However, that does not mean that this talented Golfer is being short sighted. When asked what his goals are for the future he replied: “if I am going to make a career out of Golf, I am going to have to be the number one ranked player in South Africa. It would be a real dream come true to win all four majors in one’s golf career.”

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