Favourites at stalemate on day one at SA IPT
They might be the rookies but Dylan Raubenheimer and MG Keyser played like grizzled veterans to collect two full points to help Western Province to a draw on the first day of the 51st South African Inter-Provincial on Monday.
The defending champions had their backs against the wall from the word go and had to pull out all the stops to force a half against the relatively young team from Gauteng North at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
Meanwhile 2009 champions KwaZulu-Natal cruised to a comfortable 8-4 victory over Southern Cape and Central Gauteng carved out a 6½ – 5½ win over Boland to get their campaign underway.
Sixteen-year-old Raubenheimer, partnering captain Werner Theart, claimed the first scalp for Province in the foursomes with a 3&1 win over Pedrie Oosthuizen and Zander Lombard. Gauteng North won the next two games before Le Riche Ehlers and Justin Turner managed to level the scores with a 2&1 victory over Herman Minnie and Hendre Celliers.
For full days results click here
Leading the way in the singles, Raubenheimer put Province’s first point on the board with a 1-up win over Oosthuizen and Keyser followed with a decisive 4&3 victory over rookie Conway Kunneke.
The rest of the games were a closely fought battle, but the defending champions held on to win three games and halve two in the singles for a six-all result.
“I think it was really tough day for both teams,” said team manager Henk Smit.
“On paper, Gauteng North are without a doubt the stronger team, but my guys showed real grit and determination to force the half. The rookies did really well for their first time on this platform.”
Like Smith, Steyn was also satisfied with his team’s result.
“Just out of promotion, we knew we would face the defending champions and that they would be a tough side to beat,” he said. “Although our guys play internationally, it’s a different ball game when you play for your province.
“This tournament is like the Currie Cup of golf, so there was a lot of nerves out there today. Of course the result could have been better, but I’m confident we will improve as the week moves along.”
But Steyn has some serious concern over Brandon Stone, the country’s number one amateur and one of the team’s star players.
“Brandon injured his back and had some problems walking during the foursomes,” he explained. “His pain worsened in his singles game and although he played
through the pain, it definitely affected his swing. He will see a doctor to assess his condition and we’ll have to take it from there.”
While KZN captain Ryan de Beer didn’t exactly get the whitewash he was hoping for, his team did churn out a convincing result against Southern Cape.
KZN took a 4-0 lead into the singles and won five successive games, with Elton James, De Beer, Gavin Sole, Christiaan van der Merwe and Steven van Heerden all picking up vital points for the team.
“I would have liked a 10-2 result but I’m not going to snub an 8-4 win,” he laughed. “We let a few slip, but overall I’m satisfied that the team pulled together.
“The outcome today was worth all the hard work that went into the training sessions and the preparation we put in. I think we’ve laid a good foundation, but we will have to keep up the pressure.”
In the B-Section, host province Free State and Northern Cape enjoyed mixed fortunes with a 7&5 win over Ekurhuleni and a 7&5 loss to Limpopo.
Skipper Josef Fourie said the team is still confident that they can take back their A-Division status.
“We struggled a little with the cold South-Westerly wind this morning, but we managed to half with Limpopo and lead Ekurhuleni 3½ -1½,” said Fourie. “We just missed too many opportunities in the singles.
“But it’s early days yet and in this format things change all the time. We will take a good look at the line up and come back more aggressively.”
Eastern Province beat Border 8-4, but lost 7&5 to North West.
“We were 2½-1½ up on North West after the foursomes and we should have sealed the win,” said captain Anton Prinsloo. “It’s very disappointing but you have to get past a bad result and focus ahead. “We have time to make up for this loss and get ourselves into position for promotion.”
In the other B-Section matches, North West also beat Border 6½-5½ while Limpopo downed Ekurhuleni 7½-4½.
For full results click here