French made to work for their win

Blaauw handing over trophy to du BuissonThe Protea team had a proverbial mountain to climb in the final day of their amateur golf Test Match against France, being played on the Veneuil course at Chantilly Golf Club north of Paris today. The four South African players, needed to win three of their four singles matches to share the Test Match. They managed to win two, halved one and lost one and so lost the Test Match by 3½ to 4½ points, coming agonisingly close to securing enough points to share the spoils against the French.

“It was so close it was heart breaking,” is how Protea Team Manager Enver Hassen summed up the nerve wracking day. “Three of our four matches went down to the final hole,” he said in illustration of the pulsating final round.

Adrian Ford, playing last, had everything to play for, he needed a win to ensure that his team drew with the French and so hold onto the trophy they won last year. “He played brilliantly,” is how Senior Vice President of the South African Golf Association (SAGA) Enver Hassen put it on conclusion of the competition. After 13 holes, the 20 year old Durbanville Golf Club member was three up on David Antonelli, the runner up in the Brabazon Trophy (English Amateur Open Stroke Play) two weeks back. Ford lost the 14th hole to a birdie and lost the 15th after he hit his drive into the rough and struggled to get out cleanly.

Playing hole 16, one up, Ford hit a good drive and a solid second to 3 metres of the hole. His opponent also had a good drive however his second pitched past the hole and spun back into the hole for an eagle and an unlikely win to go all square.

Ford bounced back with a birdie on the next hole to be one up going to the 18th and final hole. Playing first, Ford pulled his drive deep into the rough, it took him three shots to get out and that put paid to any chance he had of beating Antonelli. The Frenchman won the final hole, the match ending all square, and France won the test Match after a most absorbing morning’s golf.

First out this morning was the South African Amateur Stroke Play and Glacier SA Amateur champion Jacques Blaauw, who played against Victor Dubuisson. The 22 year old Boland player managed to stay up on his opponent for most of the round. He got to hole 16 3 up, then proceeded to lose the next two holes going into the final hole only 1 up. He won the final hole winning the match 2 up.

Ryan Clarke, 22 year old from Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, was never in contention and lost convincingly to Romain Wattel 6 and 5.

Derik Ferreira on the other hand had an enthralling encounter against Rudy Thuillier of France. “Derik was sinking putts from all over the green to stay in the game,” explained Hassen. It was another nail biting finish though, playing hole 16, Thuillier birdied to go all square. They halved the penultimate hole. Ferreira birdied the final hole to win it and take the match one up.

South Africa then won 2½ points from the singles to the French Team’s 1½. With the French having dominated yesterday’s play, by 3 points to 1, the final result was the home team took the trophy by 4½ to the visiting South African Team’s 3½.

Final Day Results
Veneuil Course, Chantilly Golf Club

Jacques Blaauw (SA) beat Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 2 up;
Ryan Clarke (SA) lost to Romain Wattel 6 and 5;
Derik Ferreira (SA) beat Rudy Thuillier (FRA) 1 up;
Adrian Ford (SA) halved against David Antonelli (FRA).

Singles Points: South Africa 2½ ; France 1½

Final Points: South Africa 3½; France 4½

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