RUSTENBURG (27 September 2013) – Ekurhuleni celebrated a hard-earned promotion, but their joy was overshadowed by the utter elation and delight of the Gauteng North team, who ended a 29 year winning drought with an outstanding performance at the 2013 South African Inter-Provincial at Rustenburg Golf Club.
The 2013 champions ended their campaign in terrific style by handing KwaZulu-Natal a decisive 9.5 – 2.5 drubbing in the final round on Friday, to put the seal on an unbeaten record in the week-long premier team championship, sponsored by Tempest.
The boys in blue were tied 2-all after the foursomes, but captain Tokkie van den Berg rallied the troops and his charges delivered with seven single wins and a halve from Werner Ferreira.
“I said I needed everything they have and the guys delivered,” said the delighted skipper.
“On Tuesday, Werner van Niekerk rallied with two birdies for a halve that gave us the win against Boland, and today, Werner Ferreira was 3-down through 13 and fought back with birdies at the 14th, 15th and 16th to halve the match, even though we were well ahead.
“From the first match to the last, the guys played for the team. We came here as a unit, played as unit and we’ve won as a unit. We had a lot to prove, and I’m really proud of the fact that we didn’t lose a single match. Our record speaks volumes about the character, strength and commitment of the players on this team.”
Gauteng North president, who also did duty as manager this week, was equally proud.
“The last time Gauteng North lifted this trophy, we were still called Northern Transvaal, so there was a lot of pressure on these boys to deliver,” said Few.
“We were the underdogs coming into this week, but our players stood their ground. I applaud each and every player on their commitment, their support for their fellow players and their fighting spirit.”
Gauteng North finished the week on 10 points at the top end of the log, while KwaZulu-Natal, while were the unhappy recipients of the wooden spoon.
It came down to a three-way battle for relegation between Southern Cape, Boland and the 2009 champions, but the men in black slipped to the bottom, having earned just three points from an earlier win against Western Province and a draw with Southern Cape.
Defending champions Western Province overwhelmed their 2012 winning partners Boland 9-3 to move to second on the log with six points, edging out Southern Cape by a single games point.
The Garden Route side were 3-down after the foursomes, but rallied with six singles victories and a half point from Ryan Ciapparelli to win the match 7.5 – 4.5 to leapfrog Central for third.
Boland finished in fourth on four points, while Central Gauteng barely avoided relegation with one and a half game points.
Meanwhile Ekurhuleni effectively secured their promotion to the A-Section in the fourth round. However, the memory of the 2008 relegation still lingered.
Ernest Botha wanted to make sure they went out in winning form and the skipper pressed his charges to give it one final push and the team crushed Mpumalanga 8-4, giving Botha his unbeaten run.
“I wanted us to come out winning and winning well,” said Botha. “We set out to win all our matches and we accomplished our goal. That’s is something these guys will treasure forever.
“Most of our players are still young and they will mature even more this next 12 months. The guys in the A-Section should know we are coming and we will be coming strong.”
Ekurhuleni topped the standings with 12 points, while North West took second on 10 points ahead of Free State and Northern Cape, whom they beat 7.5 – 4.5.
Limpopo handed Eastern Province a 7-5 drubbing to finish fourth on six points, two behind Free State and two clear of Mpumalanga
The Eastern Province finished in sixth place on two points, with Border bringing up the rear after winless week.
TOP MARKS FOR RUSTENBURG GOLF CLUB
All the teams remarked on the fantastic condition of the course and the two victorious captains were lavish in their praise for the greenkeeper, Solly Rautenbach and his staff.
“The course was in superb condition, from tee to green,” said Van den Berg. “The greens ran true and the fairways were fantastic. The rough was slightly soft, but also in super condition and it was a joy to play this course all week.”
Botha said having no placing added to the experience.
“The course held up so well, and the new greens are fantastic. Solly and staff have really put in so much effort and they have to commended for delivering a course of the highest standard.”