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GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Nobody had more fun than Savannah De Bock at the 2023 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

The Belgian had such a big smile on her face all week at the nation’s top junior tournament that you’d think she won by a landslide, when in reality she finished on the bottom half of the leaderboard. When’s the last time you walked off a green with a smile after making a double bogey? De Bock did it at least twice.

“Well, it’s really important for me to stay positive, because nothing good can come from me being negative,” she explained. “I’m a really outgoing person, really positive person, so that’s just my way of being and if I’m not joyous, what am I?”

De Bock, No. 51 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, has an infectious personality that you can’t help but gravitate towards. She was sitting alone eating lunch after Saturday’s final round at the pristine Sage Valley Golf Club when four players from the boys’ side of the annual competition immediately came to join her as soon as they saw her. Not long after sitting down the laughter ensued.

“I made new friends, not only my roommates and other girls, but actually other boys, so that’s cool,” said De Bock. “I think I’ll remember the spirit of friendship that was here, I felt at home here.”

Wire-to-wire: Anna Davis, Aldrich Potgieter dominate 2023 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley

She entertained her caddie all week long with songs and jokes and had animated discussions in the middle of the round with fellow players about scrambled eggs. De Bock danced around the property from event to event each night, often in her Gryffindor sweatshirt (a fitting house placement for all you Harry Potter fans out there). After dinner one night, De Bock grabbed a piece of chocolate cake for desert but couldn’t find a fork. Without skipping a beat, she grabbed some chopsticks and went on her merry way.

While she didn’t leave Sage Valley with the trophy, De Bock will take home countless memories, new friends and the unofficial title as the Most Fun Player of the Week.

“It was just amazing. Everyone is so nice here. I made a lot of friends so that’s really cool,” De Bock said of her experience. “The course is in such great shape. I’ve never played a course so well maintained in my life. The greens are really hard but it’s really fun to play. I learned a lot, so that’s cool. I’m a bit disappointed about my score overall, but I’ve learned a lot, so that’s nice.”

If De Bock was impressed with Sage Valley, she’ll be blown away in two weeks when she ventures 20 miles down the road for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“Mostly excited,” she said of her ANWA debut. “A little nervous because it’s such a big competition but I’m looking forward to it.”

De Bock isn’t new to big competitions, especially after her appearance at the Junior Invitational. She won the 2022 European Ladies’ Amateur and finished 14th at the Ladies European Tour’s The Mithra Belgian Ladies Open. That said, she doesn’t have a television at home, so she hasn’t seen much of the ANWA or Masters, but she has spoken about it with her friend and fellow Belgian Clarisse Louis, a two-time ANWA competitor.

After competing in the ANWA, De Bock will head home to Belgium before returning to the Peach State in the fall to attend the University of Georgia, where she’s interested in studying anything from genetics to communication and journalism.

“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s such a great place to train. I know I’m gonna be able to study at the same time, which is always a little hard in Europe. So I’m really excited about it.”

There’s so much attention paid to the professional tours and the millions of dollars at stake that it’s easy to forget the true essence of the game is at the amateur level. Thankfully there are players like De Bock to remind us of that.

Wire-to-wire winners: Anna Davis, Aldrich Potgieter dominate en route to 2023 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley titles

Anna Davis, Aldrich Potgieter lead at Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, where no lead is safe

With their eyes on Augusta National, Aldrich Potgieter and Anna Davis take early Junior Invitational at Sage Valley leads