Favourites draw early blood at 50th SA Interprov
Central Gauteng threw down the gauntlet and made their intentions crystal clear with 10 splendid points on day one of the 50th South African Inter Provincial at Pretoria Country Club.
Team captain Ryan Dreyer, who led his team to a 4-0 whitewash in the foursomes and six victories in the singles against Free State and Northern Cape, said: “We didn’t come here to pick up where we left off last year. We came to win and the team delivered the kind of start I expected.
“Unlike last year, when we started on the back foot and never recovered, we have a solid footing in the tournament now. That’s how you have to play if you hope to win and that’s our intention; to go all the way to the top.”
Central leads the Western Province by two and are 2½ points clear of defending champions, Kwazulu-Natal. Southern Cape, making their debut in the A-Section is fourth on 4½, followed by Boland on four and Free State with two pints.
“This morning there were one or two matches that went down the wire, but this afternoon the guys were pretty impressive,” said Dreyer. “Daniel got us going with a 4&3 win over Desmond (van Viegen) and the rest of the guys just built from there.
“Everyone gave a 100 percent, right up to Allan (Versveld) who beat Desne (van den Berg) 7&5 in the last match. Yes, we took some losses, but overall, we played the way we intended to.”
Plotting a course to their 16th title in this team competition, the Western Province extended their three point foursomes lead over Boland to 8-4 in the singles.
“Boland is always a tough team for us to play, so I’m very satisfied that we could get the job done today,” said manager Henk Smith. “It’s always nice to have a strong start to the week.”
Province’s Gregg Upton beat Francois Haughton 2&1 to set the ball rolling.
Former captain Werner Theart delivered a heavy blow with a 7&5 win over Nathan Scott and Jean-Paul Strydom, Rayn Strauss and Robbie Oosthuizen followed suit. Drikus Bruyns managed to stem the bleeding by beating WP captain Aaron Russell 5&4.
Defending champions Kwazulu-Natal, with seven members of the 2009 winning side including skipper Ryan de Beer, scored 2½ points against Southern Cape in the foursomes. They locked down five victories in the singles to keep ahead at 7½ – 5½.
“The guys were pretty prepared for today, but we got caught out by the greens some,” said De Beer.
“We practiced here twice leading up to the tournament and the greens are definitely faster, harder and bumpier this week. I’m happy though with how the guys are playing the course.
“It wasn’t all that memorable, but I think we will all improve as the week progresses and we get used to the greens.”
It was a pretty memorable day for Christiaan van der Merwe, though.
The lanky player scored his first hole-in-one when he aced the par-three eighth from 101 meters. “I hit a pretty solid sand-wedge and Steve (van Heerden) and I just watched it pitch and disappear into the hole,” exclaimed Van der Merwe. “I’ve seen them fall on television but I can tell you, it was pretty awesome to see my own ace drop.”
In the B-Section, Gauteng North delivered a powerful punch alongside Eastern Province.
The tournament hosts gained just 1½ points from the foursomes, but collected five points off Ekurhuleni and 6 ½ points off Border in the Singles to move to second in the log. With 15 points, Gauteng North is just one point shy of Eastern Province.
“We had a pretty good day today and it’s always important to get these tournaments off to a good start,” said EP team manager Anton Prinsloo.
“In the foursomes we drew 2-2 with Limpopo and beat North West 3-1, which was a great result for us because they are normally a tough team to beat.
“We started pretty slow in the singles and it was touch and go for a couple of guys after nine holes, but they pulled it off and we collected a couple of nice wins down the home straight.”
In fact, Eastern Province beat Limpopo 7-5 and scored a 9-3 victory over North West to soar to the top of the log with 16 points.
“We’re off to a two win start, which was a little unexpected, but we’ll take that any day,” said Prinsloo.
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