BELVILLE (8 December 2013) – Gauteng North will launch their title defence in the South African Junior Interprovincial at Bellville Golf Club on Monday, but the 2012 champions will face a very determined challenge from the local heroes, Western Province.
In 2011, this year’s hosts prevented Gauteng North from back-to-back victories in the championships, but their arch rivals turned the tables to win again at Paarl Golf Club 12 months later.
Province manager Henk Smith is confident that his eight charges are well prepared to claim back the title they lost at Paarl Golf Club last December.
“I think we could surprise some people,” Smith said. “As individual players, the guys have all performed well this season and they have come together nicely as a team during practice.
“Gauteng North and Central Gauteng are undoubtedly the favourites on paper, but I believe we have a good chance of challenging for the title.”
Smith will have the experience from skipper Sean Bradley, Robert Bougas, Luke Trocado and Ian Snyman, who all contended last year’s event, backed by rookies Altin van der Merwe, Hayden Garcia, Michael Sherrif and Noel Anderson, who have all performed well this season.
“Altin is definitely one of our inform players,” said Smith. “He squeezed a runner-up finish at the Albatross International Junior Golf Championship between victories at the Durbanville Open, Clovelly Open and the Mowbray Open in the last four weeks on our Premier Amateur Tour and claimed a top six at the final event at Rondebosch on Sunday.
“Michael, who plays out of Bellville Golf Club, has had a handful of top five finishes on the WP Premier Amateur Tour and narrowly lost in a play-off at Royal Cape. Noel has been very consistent throughout the season and Hayden has come in leaps and bounds since joining the KeNako Academy in George.”
The country’s largest junior team competition has drawn top junior golfers from 13 golf unions across South Africa and it will be a huge week for Limpopo.
For the first time last year, the SA Junior IPT was aligned to the same format used at the SA Interprovincial and SA Mid-Amateur Interprovincial with the 13 provincial union teams split into an A- and B- Division.
In an epic battle in the singles, Limpopo snatched the coveted promotion from Mpumalanga.
Ray Earle’s charges took a slender one point cushion into the final round but lost the advantage when Mpumalanga took a 3-1 lead in the foursomes. The Limpopo lads had to fight hard to win five singles to level the score and it came down to Jaco Linde in the final game to score a vital half point to secure the win.
“We need that halve to finish 6-all and Jaco did more than deliver under huge pressure when he holed a hallelujah putt from 15 feet to give us the victory,” said Earle. “We are definitely ready to defend our spot in the A-Section and we won’t go down without a battle.”
Linde, Hennie du Plessis, Stephan de Beer, Franco van Zyl and captain Corne Olivier will once again tee it up for Limpopo alongside rookies AJ Smit, Ben Harris and Cameron Nesmith.
The final two teams in the A-Section are Ekurhuleni and Eastern Province, while the teams lining up with Mpumalanga in the B-Section include last year’s A-Section losers KwaZulu-Natal, Boland, Border, Free State & Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and Southern Cape.