Central Gauteng lift SA IPT in titanic battle

There were a lot of doubting Thomas’s when Central Gauteng arrived at the 51st South African Inter-Provincial at Bloemfontein Golf Club with two bankers and six rookies, but this youthful side proved that the will to win is often enough.

In the face of much speculation, Jock Wellington’s charges underlined their selection and stayed the course to break a five-year winning drought and lift the most prestigious team competition title on the South African amateur circuit for a record 25th time.

“This is an incredible moment for the whole squad,” said an elated Graham van der Merwe, as the skipper enjoyed a raucous round of high fives with his euphoric team mates around the 18th green.

“We came here to prove ourselves and to have pulled it off, means the world to every member of the squad. There is no describing what this means to us.”

While the SA IPT delivered the usual mix of upsets and jostling for position, it proved once again that, that even when teams look strong on paper, golf is still played on grass.

After four rounds of victories, losses and draws, Gauteng Central emerged the frontrunner on six points with slender one point edge over Gauteng North and KwaZulu-Natal.

But on the final day, statistics were thrown aside and it came down to the obvious…who wanted it the most.

Wellington’s young guns edged ahead with a 2½ – 1½ result over Northerns, while the coastal side also built a 2½ – 1½ cushion over Province.

But even after the morning foursomes, it was still to close to call and the singles turned into a hotly contested scrap.

Through the first nine holes, the three teams were pretty evenly matched for dominance but then KwaZulu-Natal lost their footing and Pedrie Oosthuizen drew first blood for Gauteng North with a 2&1 win over Callum Mowat.

It was Muzi Nethunzwi who signalled that the tide was turning and the battle for supremacy swung in favour of Central Gauteng when he drummed Coenie Bester 4&3 and his foursomes partner, Damian Naicker, eliminated Zander Lombard at the last.

Michael Dixon took the lead to 3-1 against Conway Kunneke and fittingly, the skipper dealt Gauteng North the dying blow when he downed his opposite number Herman Minnie 2&1.

Although Gauteng North fought bravely to win the last three games, the result was already a foregone conclusion, a 6½ – 5½ victory for Central Gauteng.

“It’s a great day for Central because we pulled off the unthinkable,” said Wellington. “We brought Ruan and Daniel, who played in last year’s IPT and six young guys who brought their game and spirit.

“They are a young team of great individual players, but we walked off a great winning team. We weathered a lot of criticism and it’s a great feeling to prove them all wrong. This team performed from day one and they richly deserve to take this cup home.”

Western Province also caught a break when they beat 6½ – 5½ to launch to second on the final log, with the 2009 champions pushed into fourth place behind Gauteng North.

And in the fight to stay in the A-Section, Boland avoided relegation with a historic 8-0 whitewash in the singles to force an 11-1 result.

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