WORCESTER, 18 December 2015 – Southern Cape’s youthful exuberance, grit and determination was unparalleled as they marched to victory in the South African U-19 Inter-Provincial at Worcester Golf Club on Friday.
The premier junior team championship delivered the usual mix of upsets and jostling for position, but it proved once again that even when teams look strong on paper, golf is still played on grass.
Over the first four days, the five bankers and three rookies dovetailed to perfection against defending champions Western Province, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng North and Ekurhuleni.
The final scuffle against 2013 champions Central Gauteng was always going to be a tough battle, but the Garden Route side fought valiantly and was graceful in defeat after the 7 – 5 loss.
“We knew Central Gauteng was going to come at us guns blazing and they really brought the fight to us,” said captain Jovan Rebula as the team celebrated with a series of high fives at the 18th green after the last putt dropped.
“They came at us very hard in the Singles and really deserved the victory, but I think the final score speaks volumes about our team spirit. This is an incredible achievement for the whole team.
“We’ve come close in past championships, but this week we fought like demons. I think only the past champions of this tournament can understand the incredible pride we share as a team right now.
“This was a team effort all the way and everyone deserves to take credit. Throughout the week, every player on the team had a moment where they need to step up and everyone delivered.
“I have to applaud our rookies Martin Vorster, Alan Lones and Julian Sale, who really delivered a champions’ performance. We are a team that bats from one to eight; there are no superstars, the whole team contributed and that’s why we pulled it through.”
Southern Cape and Central were tied in the Foursomes, but David Meyers drew first blood for Central Gauteng when he downed Alex van Wyk 5 & 3.
Cameron Moralee levelled the score with a 4 & 3 win, but Marco Steyn won 2-up and Fritz Orren 2 & 1 to put Central ahead again. Caylum Boon won 1-up to reduce the gap, but Dylan Naidoo’s 2 & 1 victory over Rebula took Central to six points.
Keelan van Wyk and Guy Waterhouse sealed their victory when both players halved at the 18th.
Manager Roger Wessels said Southern Cape’s success was down to winning combinations and a strong team spirit.
“We worked out our Foursomes combinations to pair each rookie with an experienced player and the pairings worked to our advantage. We took a solid lead into the Singles in every match and build on the cushion.
“This team really played for each other. Our rookies were outstanding in the early games in some of the matches, taking the pressure off the top order. And vice versa, the top order stepped up and were outstanding in pulling through the crucial points to win the matches for us.”
Defending champions Western Province thumped Ekurhuleni 7 – 5 to finish second on nine points while Central Gauteng’s final round triumph boosted them to third with seven points.
KwaZulu-Natal launched a spirited assault to defeat Gauteng North 7 – 5 and tie them on six points, but the Daises clinched fourth in the standings by half a point in a games point count-out.
Meanwhile, Ekurhuleni managed to avoid relegation with a lone victory against KwaZulu-Natal, which left Boland holding the wooden spoon after a winless week in Worcester.
The celebrations could have started much earlier, but Free State put the festivities on hold until they could seal the battle for promotion in the South African U-19 Inter-Provincial with an unbeaten record at Worcester Golf Club on Friday.
Over five days of intense competition, the eight-man team executed a well-laid game plan to perfection.
They defeated Mpumalanga, Eastern Province, North West, Northern Cape and Border and, on the final day, came together with unbelievable spirit to hammer Limpopo 10.5 – 1.5.
“We came here to prove ourselves and to have pulled it off, means the world to every member of the squad,” said skipper Attie van Wyk.
“Although we were pretty much guaranteed promotion after the fourth round, nothing is ever set in stone. We still approached the match against Limpopo exactly the same way as we did every other game this week.
“We did a proper job of winning this year. You can’t argue with six matches and six wins – you just can’t argue with that. Every one of the guys played well and the team spirit was fantastic.”
Free State blitzed Limpopo in the Foursomes to lead 3.5 – 0.5.
Franco Froneman continued their winning march when mowed down Tristen Schwim 8 & 7 and Leander Snyman, Steven le Roux, Attie van Wyk, Ruan Pretorius, Wilco Nienaber and Therion Nel piled on the points for Free State.
However, Johan Stears had the final say for Limpopo when he defeated GeRico Muller 1-up.
Manager Nicky Nel said this promotion was seven years in the making.
“Therion, Attie, Ruan and Franco have been playing together for seven years and Steven and Wilco joined us in 2012,” Nel said.
“These six guys have battled for this victory for four long years and I am so incredibly pleased that they can graduate from the junior ranks having finally pulled it through. Our two rookies, GeRico and Leander, punched well above their weight this week.
“We set our combinations before we arrived and we never once changed the line-up. It added to the sense of continuity this week. As much as golf is an individual game, our team spirit was phenomenal and definitely a huge factor in our victory.
“I am incredibly proud of our team, for their complete commitment and for sticking it out through the hard times. This is an incredible moment for the whole squad. There is no describing what this promotion means to us.”
Mpumalanga secured second in the standings with an 8.5 – 3.5 result against Eastern Province, while North West finished third after thumping Border 11 – 1.
Not surprisingly, a Free State player led the Most Valuable Standings, but Wilco Nienaber had to share the stage with Banele Mavuso from Mpumalanga, who also reeled in 11.5 points.
Both players had five wins and a draw in the Foursomes and six straight victories in the Singles.
A-SECTION ROUND 5 RESULTS
Central Gauteng 7 – Southern Cape 5
Western Province 7 – Ekurhuleni 5
KwaZulu-Natal 7 – Gauteng North 5
A-SECTION FINAL LOG
1 Southern Cape (6, 5, 0, 1, 10, 46.5)
2 Western Province (6, 4, 1, 1, 9, 39.0)
3 Central Gauteng (6, 3, 1, 2, 7, 40.5)
4 Gauteng North (6, 2, 2, 2, 6, 35.0)
5 KwaZulu-Natal (6, 3, 0, 3, 6, 34.5)
6 Ekurhuleni (6, 1, 1, 4, 3, 30.0)
7 Boland (6, 0, 1, 5, 1, 26.5)
B-SECTION ROUND 5 RESULTS
Free State 10.5 – Limpopo 1.5
Mpumalanga 8.5 – Eastern Province 3.5
North West 11 – Border 1
B-SECTION FINAL LOG
1 Free State (6, 6, 0, 0, 12, 59.0)
2 Mpumalanga (6, 5, 0, 1, 10, 46.0)
3 North West (6, 4, 0, 2, 8, 42.0)
4 Eastern Province (6, 3, 0, 3, 6, 36.0)
5 Northern Cape (6, 1, 1, 4, 3, 25.5)
6 Border (6, 1, 0, 5, 2, 18.0)
7 Limpopo (6, 0, 1, 5, 1, 25.5)
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.