PAARL (13 December 2012) – The Western Province may still trail Gauteng North by two points and Central Gauteng by one at the end of round four of the South African Junior Interprovincial, but the dynamics of the A-Section has certainly changed after the defending champions staged a spirited comeback at Paarl Golf Club on Thursday.
But, while Province rebounded from successive losses with vigour against the Central, neighbours Gauteng North secured a first-rate 9-3 victory over Eastern Province and Ekurhuleni’s Jason Froneman earned a roaring hero’s ovation from his team after holing a hallelujah chip-in at the 18th to force a six-all result against KwaZulu-Natal.
Province started well with a 3-1 lead in the foursomes and victories from Luke Trocado and Sean Bradley put the defending champions 5-2 ahead.
Robert Bougas halved his game against Matthew Kiewitz, while Province’s henchmen Meyer Pauw, Ian Snyman and skipper Dylan Raubenheimer sealed a 8.5 – 3.5 victory with solid wins in the last three games.
The captain is confident that his team can bring the same form to their final game against KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.
“We did a few things differently after yesterday’s loss and I think it had a positive impact on our team,” Raubenheimer said.
“We had an early night and we spend some time at the driving range before play. It definitely helped our performance, because we combined better in the foursomes and even the one game we lost, the result was very close.
“In the singles, every guy on the team played well and our losses were close, as well. We just need to bring the same focus to the course tomorrow, because this tournament is still wide open.”
Ekurhuleni started the singles 3-1 down, but claimed their first three singles to get their match against KZN back to level.
The coastal side edged ahead again when Matt Saulez and Malcolm Mitchell took the next to games, but Springbok Christiaan Bezuidenhout swung the game in Ekurhuleni’s favour with a 6&5 result against Clayton Mansfield to level the match again.
After Kyle McClatchie halved his game with KZN’s Rian Swanepoel, it was down to Froneman at the last hole to square his game against Combrinck Smit to halve the match.
“We had a couple of heart stopping moments,” explained manager Deon Becker.
“Jason hit it into the water and had to take a penalty drop. His next shot ended short of the green and Combrinck was on the green with a two-footer to win. I swear you could hear a pin drop.
“Next thing Jason chipped it in and Combrinck missed his putt. What a moment for the team.”
Froneman, who will be travelling to the Orange Bowl Junior Golf Invitational later this month as the winner of this year’s Glacier Junior Series Final, was equally thrilled to have handed his team a life line.
“It was a great chip, but really, the whole match was a team effort,” he said. “I just did my bit for the team. Now we are really psyched for our match against EP tomorrow.”
Following their victories over Province and KZN, the Eastern Province squad came up against a very determined Gauteng North side.
As it turned out, a quick little pep-talk from manager Andre Louw that did the trick to inspire a 9-3 win.
“I told the guys that we can’t change anything about our previous results,” Louw explained.
“I reminded them that we would still turn things around if you delivered a focussed performance against EP. The boys really showed some character and team spirit, and I knew we were going to have a better day when we took a 3-1 lead in the foursomes.
“We won six of our singles and the players were really disciplined out there. It was the kind of performance I have been waiting for. Yes, it’s great to be leading the log, but we can’t take anything for granted with one round to go. There is a lot on the line for us tomorrow, and you can bet Province will come at us with everything they’ve got.”
In the B-Section, it was Limpopo manager Ray Earle’s turn to enjoy a double celebration.
Well rested from their bye on Wednesday, Earle’s charges coped well with the sweltering heat to beat Border a 6.5 – 5.5 and hand Southern Cape a 7.5 – 3. 5 drumming.
Having vaulted to the top of the log on nine points, promotion is just one match against Mpumalanga away, but the Limpopo team will have to bring their A-Game after their final round opponents thrashed Free State & Northern Cape 9-3 and moved into second on eight points.
In the final match, the Southern Cape side also enjoyed a fortuitous day, beating Border 8.5 – 3.5.