Lali Stander –
RUSTENBURG (20 September 2013) – Home course advantage, resident support and local course knowledge. These are the three elements the North West team are counting on to lay the foundation and deliver a winning punch for A-Section promotion in the 53rd South African Inter-Provincial Championship at Rustenburg Golf Club next week.
To reach the end goal, the local favourites will have to get six very determined and confident opponents, including Border, Eastern Province, Ekurhuleni, Free State & Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and 2012 wooden spoon recipient Limpopo, who was relegated in Port Elizabeth last year.
North West president Coenie Schoonhoven said the union has enjoyed unprecedented success in teams competitions in the last 18 months, and this year’s SA Inter-Provincial team is determined to add to the union’s unbeaten run.
In May last year, the North West country districts team earned promotion at the SA Country Districts in Polokwane, while the mid-amateurs also earned promotion at the SA Mid-Amateur IPT in Bloemfontein last October.
“This year, our Under-23 team won the B-Section at the U-23 SA Inter-Provincials in Nelspruit in April,” Schoonhoven said. “In the same month, our Senior and Super-Senior sides both won the B-Sections in their respective divisions at the INDWE Senior Inter-Provincial at Koro Creek.
“A month later, our country districts team marched to victory in their A-Section debut at Upington Golf Club in May. We have a lot of faith in our SA IPT side to carry on this winning tradition and to take us to the A-Section in this championship this year.”
Although the North West team will be relying on the leadership of experienced skipper Ettienne Bates and the skillset of former professional Danie van Niekerk, Schoonhoven said the key to their success lies in the fact that there is little hierarchy in this team.
“Ettienne is very experienced and respected captain while Danie, who regained his amateur status at the end of 2012, will bring a new dimension to the side,” he explained. “But I think that the biggest factor in our favour is that we have eight guys that can bat at number one.
“I think they are a great unit and there are no egos on this team, just eight guys determined to do their best for the North West Golf Union and for each other.”
Peet van Schalkwyk will manage the side that also includes Aubrey Beckley, SP Campher, Wynand Potgieter, Henk Pretorius, Wade Jacobs en Gareth Petler.
Schoonhoven expects a very tough battle in the B-Division.
“Limpopo’s relegation is in the rear-view mirror, but it remains a strong motivator,” he said. “They’ve had a taste of the A-Division and they will be chomping at the bit to get back, so we will take them very seriously this week.”
“Ekurhuleni is packing a very strong side with the likes of SA number one Christiaan Bezuidenhout and top ranked players like NJ Arnoldi, Jason Froneman and Kyle McClatchie.
“The Eastern Province missed an ideal opportunity to gain promotion when the interprovincial was held at Port Elizabeth Golf Club last year, so we expect Naldo Claassen’s side to come out fighting.
“But one can never really predict these tournaments, because the foursomes and singles format always dishes up surprises. So many times it’s the underdogs that come through. The team can just put it their best effort and fight until the last putt drops.”
In the A-Section, joint defending champions Western Province and Boland will go head-to-head with 2009 winners KwaZulu-Natal, 2010 champions Central Gauteng, last year’s B-Section winners Southern Cape and the strongest team on paper, Gauteng North.