MALELANE, 18 August 2017 – When asked about his highlights of the Fellowship Cup, Matt Saulez didn’t talk mention his debut or South Africa’s roaring 26 – 6 victory. Instead, Saulez talked about friendships forged with the Indian competitors and the chance to run shoulders with the rest of the GolfRSA squad during the three-day Test at Leopard Creek.
“I’m thrilled that South Africa won, because that was our primary goal this week, but I have come away with so much more than a trophy,” said the KwaZulu-Natal golfer. “Coming into the squad as a new cap was daunting, but meeting the Indian players and the rest of our squad was awesome.
“I really enjoyed testing myself against the Indian competitors on the course and sharing battle stories in the clubhouse after the rounds. This format of combining seniors, mid-amateurs, open amateurs and juniors all competing together as a team was pretty awesome.
“We very seldom get the chance to see the top guys in action. It was a massive treat to watch the top seniors and mid-amateurs in action and to meet the juniors, who were so impressive this week.”
Saulez said the field was thoroughly tested in the final round of singles on Friday.
“I’ve played four events here at Leopard Creek, but I’ve never had to play this course in wind pumping up to 30 km per hour,” said the Open Amateur, who beat Sunit Chowrasia 3 & 2. “It was really tough out there and a real test of skill and patience. The match was much tighter than the final score suggest, but I pulled it through. The whole team is thrilled that we finished the week unbeaten.”
South Africa scored 12.5 points in the final round singles.
India’s Gagan Verma and HS Kang won both their mid-amateur matches, senior Rishi Narain halved against Greg Gleeson and India’s top junior Sharma gave his team another cause for celebration.
“Kartik defeated South African number one Jayden Schaper 2 & 1, which really was a fantastic result for us,” said India’s team manager Dilip Thomas.
“There is no doubt that all our players, from the juniors to the seniors, have had a great learning experience and it will definitely benefit them when we return home. Many matches in the last two rounds were tight and I believe the victories this week will inspire our players to keep the cup in India next year.
“Our players improved as the Test progressed and there was some fantastic tussles in the final round, so I think that we should have at least two days of practice next year to give the players adequate time to acclimatise. Leopard Creek and GolfRSA were fantastic hosts and we are grateful for the opportunities afforded our players to come and compete at such a beautiful and challenging venue.”
Kang beat South Africa’s top ranked mid-amateur Ryan Dreyer 4 & 3, while Verma downed Gerlou Roux 5 & 4.
“The wind made conditions very hard and to pull off the win was fantastic,” said Verma. “The South Africans are very tough to beat because they never give up, so HS and I are extremely proud that we could contribute two points for India in the Test.”
Sharma thoroughly enjoyed his debut in the Fellowship Cup.
“It was really tough out there and you really had to focus on your game and shut out everything else,” said the 16-year-old. “It took me a while to adjust to the greens, because we don’t have greens this fast in India. The course is also very long. I can’t believe how far these guys can drive it. I’ve had a fantastic time here and look forward to hosting South Africa in India next year.”
GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn was pleased that the amended format proved successful.
“The Fellowship Cup was an initiative from Mr Johann Rupert and Mr Thomas to strengthen the ties between South Africa and India,” said Hepburn. “After a very successful first event in India last year with our senior and mid-amateur teams, we decided to expand the teams to feature open amateurs and juniors, as well.
“This has proven to be a positive step and it was a fantastic event, both for South Africa and the Indian Golf Union. As always, Leopard Creek was the perfect host and handed us a course in spectacular condition with pristine fairways and fast greens that really tested both teams. The eight teams competed in the spirit we hoped for and we look forward to growing our relationship when we take our four teams to India next year.”
Overall Result: South Africa 26 vs India 6
Final Round Singles Result: South Africa 12½ vs India 3½.
SA Seniors 3.5 vs India Seniors 0.5
Steve Williams beat Anil Kumar Jule 7 & 6;
Francois le Roux beat David Jerome D’souza 5 & 4;
Greg Gleeson halved with Rishi Narain;
Andre van Dyk beat Vijay Kumar Bhadana 5 & 3;
SA Juniors 3 vs India Juniors 1
Wilco Nienaber beat Harshjeet Singh Sethie 2Up;
Jayden Schaper lost to Kartik Sharma 2 & 1;
Christo Lamprecht Jnr beat Raghav Chugh 2 & 1;
Luke Mayo beat Saarthak Chhibber 5 & 4;
SA-Mid Amateur 2 vs India MidAmateur 2
Gerlou Roux lost to Gagan Verma 5 & 4;
Ryan Dreyer lost to Harjinder Singh Kang 4 & 3;
Kevin Sharp beat Sanjay Kumar Lakra 6 & 4;
Almero Theron beat Simarjeet Singh 2 & 1;
SA Open Amateurs 4 vs India Open Amateurs 0
Malcolm Mitchell beat Khsitij Naveed Kaul 1Up;
Albert Venter beat Pukhraj Singh Gill 5 & 4;
Matt Saulez beat Sunit Chowrasia 3 & 2;
Luca Filippi beat Yashas Chandra 4 & 3;