Guts and glory put underdogs ahead
The eight-man sides from Central Gauteng, Eastern Province and Ekurhuleni showed the kind of incredible spirit only on display in team competitions to launch crucial comeback victories during the third round of the South African Junior Interprovincial at Paarl Golf Club on Wednesday.
While Gauteng North held a comfortable 3-1 lead over neighbours Central, KwaZulu-Natal was firmly in the driver’s seat with a 3.5 - 1.5 edge over Eastern Province and defending champions Western Province had a 2.5 – 1.5 advantage over Ekurhuleni after the morning foursomes.
But pure grit and determination carried the underdogs to the winner’s podium as the mercury rocketed to 40 degrees Celsius in the Paarl Valley.
Central’s Alex Brandkamp claimed first blood with a 2&1 victory over Ariel Poonan, inspiring Karabo Mokoena, Matthew Kiewitz, Dean Martin, Calvin Caldeira and Darin de Smidt to keep the momentum going and secure a 7-5 result for the side.
Although Central has inched its way to the top of the log with two wins and a draw worth five points, manager Andy Truluck cautioned against complacency.
“I was really impressed by the courage and determination the guys showed to turn things around,” Truluck said. “We have been criticised in the past that our players play for themselves, but what I saw in the singles today, was eight guys playing for each other.
“It’s great to celebrate a comeback like this, but we still have to get past the Western Province and KwaZulu-Natal to win the title. We’ll be back to square one if we lose our focus now.”
After losing to Central Gauteng on Monday, the Eastern Province but pulled off the unimaginable when they defeated defending champions Western Province in the second round. Manager Sieg Human could hardly contain his delight after his charges scored six points to clinch a narrow 6.5 – 5.5 victory over KZN.
“It was just fantastic to be out there on the course and watch these guys dig deep to secure this win for us,” Human gushed. “What a comeback. It was a true test for them to keep their focus in this unbearable heat but they played for each other and it was a magnificent thing to watch.”
Alwyn Griebenow and Wihan Kleyn noth won 2&1, while Michael Maybery and Hando Brophy both wrapped up their games in 6&4. Jacques Smit scored a 6&5 win over Ben Botha, while Granwell Gelderbloem and Ronald Baxter claimed a half each for the winning point.
But, like Truluck, Human believes the hard work still lies ahead.
“We can’t get complacent now. We can expect a tough match against Gauteng North on Thursday and Ekurhuleni won’t roll over for us on Friday, either. So we have to keep the focus and the momentum going.”
The Western Province showed no effects of the unprecedented loss to Eastern Province on Tuesday when they took a 2.5 - 1.5 lead into the singles against Ekurhuleni. But the defending champion came unstuck for a second successive day under the resilience of the Eastern Gauteng side.
After halving the first two singles, Province won the third and fourth games.
“That’s when our top order hit top gear,” said manager Deon Becker. Francois Kruger beat Sean Bradley 6&5, Kyle McCatchie downed Meyer Pauw 2&1, Jason Froneman thumped Ian Snyman 3&2 and Springbok Christiaan Bezuidenhout sealed the 6.5 – 5.5 victory when he defeated top SA junior and fellow Springbok Dylan Raubenheimer at the final hole.
“Christiaan knew exactly what was expected and he pulled it off,” said Becker. “That birdie on the last was pure skill, experience and determination under pressure. But I have to say, although the top order played incredible golf to secure the win for us, the rest of the team played just as well and showed their support all the way. It was a hard-fought battle and I’m incredibly proud of my team’s efforts.”
Today’s B-Section clashes also dished up a few surprises and a double celebration for Border.
The Eastern Cape side defeated Boland 7 – 5 and held off Free State & Northern Cape for a 6.5 – 5.5 victory. Meanwhile hosts Boland were on the receiving end of a 7.5 - 4.5 lashing from the Free State & Northern Cape, while Southern Cape also failed to converted their one point foursomes lead and went down 6.5 - 5.5 to North West.