MALELANE (14 February 2012) – South Africa had the early edge but the Scots hit back to claim a two point lead on day one of the annual Test at Leopard Creek near Malelane.
The home side held a slender one point lead after the morning session, but the Scots took five of the seven afternoon singles in a thrilling battle to take 6½-4½ edge into the final round.
Earlier today, the South Africans managed a win and a halve against one loss in three morning foursomes before Brandon Stone put the Proteas 2½ to 1½ in the lead, whipping Conor O’Neil 5 and 4 in the only singles match played this morning.
But the afternoon singles went the way of the Scots and the results illustrated that some serious consideration was given to their batting order.
The last four singles matches went down the wire, but it was the country’s top three ranked amateurs that suffered the serious losses.
SA number one Stone went down 2 and 1 to former Cameron Corbett Vase champion, Scott Crichton. Haydn Porteous, the recently crowned SA Stroke Play champion, lost 3 and 2 to last year’s Sanlam SA Amateur finalist Paul Shields, while third ranked CJ du Plessis also went down 3 and 2 to 2011 Scottish Fuels Sutherland Chalice winner, Fraser McKenna.
Although Zander Lombard and JP Strydom also finished on the losing side, both rookies managed to take their matches to the 18th hole against Brian Soutar and James White respectively.
Shaun Smith and Drikus Bruyns, also wearing the green and gold for the first time, managed to bring home South Africa’s only victories for the afternoon.
Southern Cape’s Smith claimed a big scalp when he beat Scottish Amateur Championship finalist Daniel Kay at the 18th, while Bruyns from Boland took care of business with a 1-up result over Connor O’Neil
Earlier in the day, Du Plessis from Limpopo and Gauteng North’s Lombard claimed a solid 3 and 1 victory over White and Soutar, while Strydom and Bruyns put up a majestic fight over the last three holes of their foursomes match to force a halve against Shields and Kay.
This year marks the third successive time that South Africa’s leading amateurs take on their opposite numbers from the Scottish Elite Squad in a 36-hole Test. South Africa has claimed The Leopard Trophy for the last two years running, but they will have to come up with a rock solid strategy and line-up if they hope to make it three in a row.
ROUND ONE RESULTS
(RSA players first)
Shaun Smith &Haydn Porteous 1-down to Scott Crichton & Fraser McKenna
CJ du Plessis & Zander Lombard 3-1 to Paul Shields & Daniel Kay
JP Strydom & Drikus Bruyns halved against James White & Brian Soutar
Brandon Stone beat Connor O’Neil 5/4
Brandon Stone lost to Scott Crichton 2/1
Haydn Porteous lost to Paul Shields 3/2
CJ du Plessis lost to Fraser McKenna 3/2
Shaun Smith beat Daniel Kay 1-up
Zander Lombard lost to Brian Soutar 1-up
Drikus Bruyns beat Connor O’Neil 1-up
JP Strydom lost to James White1-up