13 February 2019 – Slow and steady won the race for Team England, who overcame a 10-shot overnight deficit to deny the GolfRSA Juniors a second successive win in the Africa Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Leopard Creek on Wednesday.
The defending champions opened up a commanding lead with rounds of 217 and 206 to start the final round of the 54-hole Team Competition on nine-under with England, Sweden and Team South Africa a distant second.
While the rest of the field wilted in the Bushveld heat, though, the Roses kept a steady foot on the gas pedal.
Landsdown’s Joe Long fired three birdies on the bounce from the fourth and made three more on the trot from 10. The skipper overturned a bogey at 14 with a birdie finish for a five-under 67 to give the team a well-timed boost.
David Langley from Castle Royle closed the gap on the frontrunners to four shots with a four-under 68 and Rowland Castle’s Billy McKenzie’s run of straight pars from the seventh for a 74 took England to a final round total of 209.
Meanwhile the GolfRSA Juniors struggled on the homeward stretch.
Missed opportunities and a rush of bogeys over the closing holes proved too costly for the GolfRSA Juniors. Samuel Simpson and Martin Vorster posted a pair of 73s and a 74 from Jayden Schaper meant the defending champions came up one shot short of England’s six-under 642 target.
“All credit to the GolfRSA Juniors for setting a really high target over the first two days. We knew we had a huge gap to close on the GolfRSA Juniors, but with three scores to count, anything could happen. Leopard Creek had taken a fair amount of scalps over the first two days, so we went into the final round with patience and a positive approach,” said Long.
“We are absolutely delighted with the win. It was a much tougher week than any of us anticipated. This is not one of the top courses in the world for nothing. It’s very demanding off the tee and the conditions added to the challenge.
“Bogeys, double bogeys and even triple bogeys come quickly at Leopard Creek, especially if you get too aggressive. Tom (Plumb) put us in the running with his 67 in the second round and today, every guy had a job to do. We stayed patient, tried to keep the bogeys to a minimum, played for the best score we could put together for the team and got the job done.”
Scotland’s Euan Walker eagled the tough par five closing hole for a five-under 67 to surge into a four-shot lead and his effort boosted Team Scotland to third on 648. Jim Johnston contributed a 70 and Kieran Cantley‘s 76 to their 213 final round total.
642 Team England 225 208 209
643 Team South Africa Juniors 217 206 220
648 Team Scotland 224 211 213
650 Team South Africa 229 204 217
655 Team Sweden 219 214 222
657 Team India 225 212 220
659 Team Germany 219 221 219
686 Team France 231 228 227
705 Team Mauritius 248 231 226
718 Team Reunion 242 235 241
LIVESCORING – available on https://www.golfrsa.com/
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA.