Southern Cape’s Shaun Smith made an impressive debut for the South African Amateur golf team which took on Scotland at Malelane over the last two days. Although he and partner, Brandon Stone, lost both their foursomes matches, Smith won both his singles matches. In a match where his more fancied team mates struggled, Smith was able to hold his nerve and earn two valuable points for South Africa.
MALELANE (15 February 2012) – The South African team trailed the Scottish Golf Union Men’s National Squad by just two points going into the final day of the annual Test at Leopard Creek Country Club, but although the host nation launched a spirited comeback, the visitors managed to stay ahead and clinch The Leopard Trophy for the first time since 2010.
This year marked the third successive time that the two-day Test was played at the championship layout near Malelane, but this year the Scottish side finally found the winning combinations to deny South Africa a hat-trick of wins.
The Scots extended their overnight 6½-4½ lead to four points by winning all three morning foursomes.
For a second day running, Fraser McKenna combined with Scott Crichton to win, this time beating Brandon Stone and Shaun Smith 2 and 1. Brian Soutar and James White also stayed on a winning course by downing JP Strydom and Drikus Bruyns 4 and 3.
CJ du Plessis and Zander Lombard couldn’t conjure up the magic that saw them halve their first day match against Daniel Kay and Paul Shields and lost 3 and 1 to Kay and his new partner, Connor O’Neil.
Only Haydn Porteous, who was scheduled to play Shields in a singles match, earned South Africa’s lone point when the Scotsman had to withdraw due to a stomach ailment.
“With the score at 9½-5½, our guys really had to dig deep in the single ties to get out of trouble,” said South African Golf Association president, Colin Burger. “But the final score line tells very little of the thrilling battle that played itself out in the singles.”
Riding a wave of confidence after his tie for sixth at the South African Stroke Play Championship, in-form Crichton beat South Africa’s number one Stone 1-up and McKenna followed suit, ousting Du Plessis by the same margin.
But Shaun Smith stopped the bleeding when he downed O’Neil 1-up. Inspired by the Southern Cape rookie, the remaining South Africans found their stride and took control of the final three matches.
Sixteen-year-old debutant Lombard downed Scottish Amateur Championship finalist Kay 4 and 3, Boland rookie Bruyns beat Soutar 5 and 4 and recently crowned SA Stroke Play champion Porteous won his match against While 3 and 2.
“All six players really came back strong in the singles,” said Burger. “The first two three singles ties went the distance and if they had gone our way, the Test would have been a tie.
“In reflection, international tournaments like these are aimed at providing our players with an opportunity to compete against top amateurs in the world. We shouldn’t lose sight of the invaluable experience a Test like this brings, especially for the rookies.
“Overall, the Test went incredibly well in identifying our strengths and weaknesses and that gives us a good indication of things we need to work on going forward.”
FINAL DAY RESULTS
(RSA players first)
Morning Session 9½ – 5½
Shaun Smith & Brandon Stone lost 2/1 to Scott Crichton & Fraser McKenna
CJ du Plessis & Zander Lombard lost 3/1 to Daniel Kay & Connor O’Neil
JP Strydom & Drikus Bruyns lost 4/3 to James White & Brian Soutar
Haydn Porteous 1 point (Paul Shields withdrew)
Afternoon Singles 11½ – 9½
Brandon Stone lost to Scott Crichton 1-up
CJ du Plessis lost to Fraser McKenna 1-up
Shaun Smith beat Connor O’Neil 1-up
Zander Lombard beat Daniel Kay 4/3
Drikus Bruyns beat Brian Soutar 5/4
Haydn Porteous beat James White 3/2