For a 12th time since the Africa Zone VI Golf Championships launched in 2000, the South African team were simply superior and successfully wrapped up their title defence at Lilongwe Golf Club in Malawi.
Showing the same tenacity and commitment that has seen South African win this title 11 times, the eight man squad opened their title defence bid with eight points in the first round singles. The team gathered all four points in their second round foursomes and three out of a possible four in their round three Betterball matches.
Teeing off in the fourth and final round, South Africa held an almost unassailable lead on 15 points with Tanzania a distant second on nine and a half points and Namibiat hird on nine points.
It would have taken a mammoth effort from the challengers to close the gap, but the South Africans refused to even give an inch in the final round Singles.
They delivered a powerful message when they closed out their title defence with seven comprehensive victories and a hard-fought for halve from Zander Lombard over Willy Kitata from Uganda.
Southern Cape’s Shaun Smith was the team’s lead henchman with an 8&6 win over Texon Banda fromMalawi, while Drikus Bruyns from Boland came a close second when he sent Samuel Languene from Mozambique packing with a 6&4 result.
Western Province’s JP Strydom beat Uganda’s Patrick Mugisha 5&4, while Limpopo’s CJ du Plessis, the only hold-over from the 2011 victorious SA side, cleaned up against Zimbabwe’s Denmark Mulambo with a 5&4 result.
Debutants Muzi Nethunzwi from Soweto and Gert Myburgh from Ekurhuleni both closed out for victories, with Nethunzwi knocking out Ridwan Purdassy from Mauritius 2&1 while Myburgh won his match against Michael Makala from Tanzania 4&2.
Reigning SA Stroke Play champion Haydn Porteous completed the run for South Africa with a 4&3 victory over Roux Jeffrey from Namibia.
South Africa lifted the trophy for a second successive year and a record 12th time with a total score of 22½ points. Namibia took second place on 15 points, while Kenya- the only other winners of the championship in 2010 – snuck into third place on 13½ points. The host nation finished in fourth on 13 points, edging out Zimbabwe on a count-out.
“Defending a title is always special, but this year it really feels like some kind of an achievement as we managed to win with a seven and a half point margin,” said South African Golf Association president, Colin Burger.
“I am incredibly proud of the team. The players put a lot of work into their preparations for this championship. Each player delivered their best effort and the team played well as a unit. I believe the experience gained in playing against some of the best players from countries around Africa will be invaluable, especially to our two debutants, Muzi and Gert.
“We became a very strong side as the championship progressed and created some wonderful memories to build on in the future.”
1 South Africa 22.5 points
2 Namibia 15 points
3 Kenya 13.5 points
4 Malawi 13 points
5 Zimbabwe 13 points
6 Uganda 12.5 points
7 Tanzania 11 points
8 Zambia 8.5 points
9 Mozambique 6.5
10 Mauritius 4.5 points
SHAUN SMITH’S RESULTS
SHAUN SMITH Beat BEN FOLLET-SMITH (ZM) 5 and 3
SMITH / PORTEOUS Beat KROG / CHIBVURI (ZM) 4 and 2
PORTEOUS / SMITH Lost To JEFFERY / HUYSAMEN (NM) 1 up
SHAUN SMITH Beat TEXON BANDA (ML) 8 and 6