J.P. Van der Walt sees the World Cup bringing his native South Africa together.
“It’s a big thing for us,” said Van der Walt, who played in the Buffalo Run Casino Classic.
He missed the cut after posting a 2-under par 142. He logged a 70 during Thursday’s first round but had a 72 on Friday.
“It’s bringing the country back together a little bit,” Van der Walt said. “We’ve been kinda growing two separate ways with the races. The racial differences have been a little bigger than we needed them to be.
“I think the country is coming back together.”
Van der Walt hails from Plettenberg Bay, which forms the Bitou municipal area in the Western Cape Province (the southeast tip) of South Africa.
Wednesday was Youth Day in South Africa, commemorates the 1976 Soweto uprising. Protests by more than 20,000 pupils ended in more than 700 deaths including that of 12-year-old Hector Pieterson, who was shown in an iconic photograph.
South Africa fell to 0-1-1 in Group A with a 3-0 loss to Uruguay.
“It’s unfortunate what happened on the 16th of June,” Van der Walt said. “It would have been nice if they had won.”
South Africa’s hopes of advancing were damaged seriously when Mexico defeated France 2-0 on Thursday.
South Africa and Mexico played to a 1-1 draw in their first match on June 11.
Bafana Bafana (as the South African team is called) faces France (0-1-1) while Mexico (1-1-0) faces Uruguay (1-1-0) in final group matches Tuesday.
Van der Walt, who played at Columbus State (Ga.) University, wasn’t into soccer when he was a youth.
“I played cricket growing up and tennis, but golf was my best sport,” he said. “Cricket is boring, though. I like American baseball.”
Who is Van der Walt’s favorite to win the World Cup?
“I like Brazil and the Germans are good,” he said. “They are always strong. I think the Germans are going to surprise everyone, and Uruguay, too, especially the way they played (in Wednesday’s win over South Africa).”
Van der Walt said weather has been a factor in keeping crowds down at some of the match venues.
“They’ve had some cold weather,” he said, noting that it’s almost winter in the Southern Hemisphere. “It’s snowing and we never get that much snow. There’s been quite a bit of it. Dad says its one of the worst winter’s ever.”