MALELANE, 16 August 2017 – South Africa leads India 7 – 1 after Indian seniors David D’Souza and Rishi Narain averted a whitewash in the opening Betterball round of the Fellowship Cup at Leopard Creek on Wednesday.
Reigning SA Senior Amateur champion Steve Williams and partner Greg Gleeson downed Vijay Bhadana and Anil Kumar 8 & 6, but D’Souza and Narain edged out Francois le Roux and Andre van Dyk to square the senior division.
The Indian pair edged into the lead with par at the 12th but Le Roux and Van Dyk squared the match with a birdie at 15. However, the South African pair lost the last two holes in bogeys, leaving D’Souza and Narain to celebrate a 1-up victory.
“We combined really well, but David was the hero with his clutch putts at the 13th and 14th to halve the holes,” said Narain. “Francois and Andre were really tough to beat and there was no letting up. We were very lucky to scrape through, I think.”
“Rishi is being very complimentary, but he made the crucial birdies that won the match for us,” D’Souza responded. “We dovetailed well and that was key to the win. The foursomes on Thursday is going to be another ball game. It’s a difficult format. Today we had two shots, but with foursomes you only have one shot, so we will need to click well.”
Narain said the Leopard Creek layout lived up to its top billing as one of South Africa’s top courses.
“There is nothing tricked up about Leopard Creek,” he said. “It’s just a great test of golf and this one is a classic championship course in fantastic shape and it’s a huge privilege to have the Test here.”
Ryan Dreyer and Kevin Sharp combined to beat Gagan Verman and Sanjay Lakra 4 & 2 in the first mid-amateur match.
“All four of us had solid games,” said South Africa’s top ranked Dreyer. “Gerlou and Almero were 1-down after 11 and managed to fight their way back to victory and Kevin and I started very solid, but the Indian pair made a couple of great shots to lead 1-up through seven.
“They made a great par to halve the eighth, but we birdied nine, 10 and 11 to go 3-up. They both hit it close at 12 to halve the hole, but they conceded 13 after making six. At 14, Sanjay hit it to an inch to win the hole and we halved 15 in birdies, but unfortunately they both found the water at 16, which gave us the match.”
In the second match, Gerlou Roux and Almero Theron defeated Simarjeet Singh and HS Kang 2-up.
“I really enjoyed my debut for South Africa and we’re really pleased that we pulled it through,” said reigning SA Mid-Amateur champion Theron.
“All four of us played some solid golf and they were great opponents. It was very tight and it went down to the last, but we’ve added one point for the team and we are looking forward to another great battle in the Foursomes on Thursday.”
The South African Open Amateurs also came up trumps in two tightly-contested battles.
Khsitij Kaul and Yashas Chandra took the early lead against Albert Venter and Luca Filippi, but the SA pair squared the match with a birdie at the eighth and edged ahead with another gain at nine. The teams halved 10, 11 and 12 before Venter and Filippi increased their lead with a birdie at 13. After halving the 15th in birdies, the South Africans clinched the match 2-up with a birdie at 17.
The match between new caps Malcolm Mitchell and Matt Saulez and Indian duo Sunit Chowrasia and Puhkraj Gill also went down the wire.
The KwaZulu-Natal duo were 3-up through three holes after a par, eagle, birdie start but the Indian team won five and 13 and headed down the last five holes trailing the South Africans by one. The teams halved 14, 15 and 16 in pars, but Mitchell and Saulez sealed a 2 & 1 win when the Indian duo bogeyed the penultimate hole.
In the first junior contest, new cap Luke Mayo and reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht beat Saarthak Chhibber and Raghav Chugh 7 & 6. However, South Africa’s top ranked junior Jayden Schaper and in-form Wilco Nienaber had to dig deep to eliminate Kartik Sharma and Harshjeet Sethie.
“We were 4-up through 10 after birdies at eight, nine and 10, but Kartik and Harshjeet reeled us in with birdies at 11 and 12,” said Schaper.
“We halved the next four holes, but Wilco and I won 3 & 1 with a birdie at 17. It was a really awesome contest and we saw a lot of great shot-making. They put up a determined effort and as they come to grips with the course, they’ll get harder to beat.”
Sharma said he and partner Sethie also enjoyed the tussle.
“It is such a fantastic opportunity to play a European Tour championship layout and we had a lot of fun out there,” said the Indian Golf Union’s number one ranked junior.
“We closed the gap on Jayden and Wilco, but we just left it a little too late. We have a good game plan for the Foursomes, though, especially after another good look at the course and hopefully we can come back strong on Thursday.”
Day 1 Results – Betterball: South Africa 7 India 1Vijay
SA Seniors 1 vs India Seniors 1
Steve Williams / Greg Gleeson beat Vijay Bhadana / Anil Jule 8 & 6;
Francois e Roux / Andre van Dyk lost to David D’souza / Rishi Narain 1Down;
SA Juniors 2 vs India Juniors 0
Jayden Schaper / Wilco Nienaber beat Kartik Sharma / Harshjeet Sethie 3 & 1;
Christo Lamprecht Jnr / Luke Mayo beat Saarthak Chhibber / Raghav Chugh 7 & 6;
SA Mid-Amateur 2 vs India Mid-Amateur 0
Ryan Dreyer / Kevin Sharp beat Gagan Verma / Sanjay Lakra 4 & 2;
Gerlou Roux / Almero Theron beat Simarjeet Singh / HS Kang 2Up;
SA Open 2 vs India Open 0
Matt Saulez / Malcolm Mitchell beat Sunit Chowrasia / Pukhraj Gill 2 & 1;
Albert Venter / Luca Filippi beat Kshitij Kaul / Yashas Chandra 3 & 1;