All-Africa champions elated and humbled

The victorious South African team after winning the eighth All Africa Golf Teams Championship at Elephant Hills Resort in Zimbabwe; credit GolfRSA.

16 October 2017 – KwaZulu-Natal trio Malcolm Mitchell, Clayton Mansfield and Matt Saulez and Garrick Higgo from Boland successfully defended South Africa’s title in the All Africa Golf Team Championship last Friday, but the quartet left in Zimbabwe with much more than a trophy.

The team headed into the final round at Elephant Hills Golf Club with a 22 shot lead and posted a team total of 209 to win the title for an eighth successive time by 30 strokes on 845.

Mitchell also won the Individual Competition on 12-under-par 276 with rounds of 67, 68, 73 and 68, while Higgo, Mansfield and Saulez finished fourth, fifth and eighth respectively.

Mitchell described the event a real eye-opener.

“It was the first time Matt and I wore the green and gold outside South Africa’s borders and the first time Garrick and Clayton played for South Africa as seniors,” Mitchell said. “We were obviously keen to continue South Africa’s proud record and we were elated with the result, but on the trip home this past weekend we reflected on just how privileged we are as South Africans.

“We are incredibly well looked after by the South African Golf Association and GolfRSA – from our kit to our travel arrangements to our events back home. We have some of the best golf courses in the world, we get incredible opportunities to advance and we have a strong national amateur circuit.

“We met players that don’t have access to any of those things. Some countries only have one or two championship courses; other countries have to raise sponsorship for kit and funds to travel to compete in events. Yet, all the teams had the same fire in their belly, so proud to represent their countries, despite the shortcomings, and that was humbling for us.

“We want to congratulate all the teams who competed. In our eyes, you are all winners. Well done to the Zimbabwe Golf Association for putting on a fantastic event. It was a great tournament and an absolute treat to stay at the first class accommodation at Elephant Hills Resort.

“A special word of thanks to the green staff at Elephant Hills. Despite dealing with warthogs that constantly dig up the greens and fairways and waterbuck that roam the course, they did an amazing job to prepare the course for the championship.

“The team would also like to thank our manager Naadir Agherdien and his wife Yumna, who looked after all our needs and gave us unbelievable support throughout.”

Saulez, who will be travelling with Mitchell to Argentina in November to represent South Africa in the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup and the Argentine Amateur Open, added that the competing against the other African nations put things into a different perspective for the team.

“Like Malcolm said, I don’t think any of us realised just how privileged we are until it stared us right in the face,” he said. “I think that is why we all enjoyed hosting a golf development clinic for little juniors from a nearby school. It was an hour out of our lives, and a small thing really when you think about it, but to see the excitement on their faces was humbling. It was incredibly gratifying to teach them and to give back, even just a little, to the game that gives us so much.”

Teams Leaderboard – Final
845 South Africa 211 209 216 209
875 Zimbabwe 225 215 218 217
890 Reunion 222 221 221 226
895 Egypt 219 220 227 229
902 Zambia 226 229 221 226
904 Swaziland 226 220 225 229
913 Mauritius 230 233 235 225
914 Kenya 224 232 228 230
915 Uganda 236 225 231 223
919 Tunisia 229 225 228 237
936 Namibia 239 230 234 233
937 Ghana 228 240 230 239
940 Botswana 234 244 219 243
945 Tanzania 240 234 238 233
1014 Angola 254 260 255 245

Individual Leaderboard – Final
276 Malcolm Mitchell RSA 67 68 73 71
285 David Amm ZIM 76 67 70 72
286 Issa Abu Al Ela EGY 71 72 70 73
287 Garrick Higgo RSA 68 77 72 40
290 Clayton Mansfield RSA 78 70 71 71; Tonderayi Masunga ZIM 73 74 72 71
293 Alexandre Lasalarie REU 69 71 79 74
294 Matt Saulez RSA 76 71 76 71
295 Alfred Nandwa KEN 71 73 77 74
296 Ronald Otile UGA 78 73 73 72

PHOTO – From left to right: Malcolm Mitchell, Garrick Higgo, team manager Naadir Agherdien (South African Golf Association Vice-President), Clayton Mansfield, and Matt Saulez.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.