Kenya are the surprise leaders
With the South African team largely expected to dominate the Zone VI Team competition, it was surprising to see Kenya at the top of the log at the end of today’s first round matches.
Playing in ideal warm weather in the capital city of Botswana, Kenya muscled their way to the top of the log winning all but one match to record a total of seven points and lead the host nation by half a point.
The prize scalp for the Kenyan team was when Ali Orende beat the newly crowned Botswana Open champion, South African Allan Versfeld, 4 and 3. Versfeld did not play his best golf however in match play it is about winning one hole at a time, something his Kenyan opponent was better at today.
Another disappointment for the South African team was Danie van Tonder, the number two ranked player on the latest South African Golf Association Player Rankings, losing 2 and 1 to Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe. Epitomising the titanic struggle between these two exciting young players was that playing hole 17, van Tonder knew he had to birdie to stay in the game. This he did, but the Zimbabwean closed out the match by recording a birdie of his own.
Tyrone Ryan also had his hands full with Swazi veteran Sifiso Vilane taking him to the final hole where the South African eventually won 1 up.
Good wins were recorded by Thabo Maseko, Riekus Nortje, Steve van Heerden and CJ du Plessis.
The standout performance today was that of South African team captain Jared Harvey. He was eight under par when he won his match against Ruan Huysamen, of Namibia, 5 and 3. Huysamen, played admirably finishing on three under par for his round to that point on the Gaborone Golf Club layout, a match that perhaps produced some of the highest quality golf today.
Tomorrow South Africa take on Botswana, Mozambique, Uganda and Swaziland in the morning foursomes. The afternoon Betterball sees the team up against Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
In each foursomes match, the South Africans will play against two players from each of the countries they are playing against, each match counting for one point. The same will apply in the Betterball.
The final round will be played on Thursday.
Zone VI Team Competition
Venue: Gaborone Golf Club
First round results of the South African Team:
Allan Versfeld lost to Ali Orende (KEN) 4 and 3;
Danie van Tonder lost to Scott Vincent (ZIM) 2 and 1;
Tyrone Ryan beat Sifiso Vilane (SWZ) 1 up;
Thabo Maseko beat Tsoari Seitlheko (LES) 6 and 5;
Riekus Nortje beat Mwila Mwango 4 and 3;
Jared Harvey beat Ruan Huysamen (NAM) 5 and 3;
CJ du Plessis beat Martin Macdonald (TAN) 5 and 4.
After all teams have played eight matches
(Position, Country, Played, Won, Halved, Lost, Points):
1, Kenya, 8, 6, 2, 0, 7;
2, Botswana, 8, 6, 1, 1, 6½;
3, South Africa, 8, 6, 0, 2, 6;
3, Namibia, 8, 5, 2, 1, 6;
5, Zimbabwe, 8, 5, 1, 2, 5½;
6, Tanzania, 8, 3, 1, 4, 3½;
7, Uganda, 8, 3, 0, 5, 3;
7, Swaziland, 8, 3, 0, 5, 3;
9, Lesotho, 8, 2, 1, 5, 2½;
10, Malawi, 8, 2, 0, 6, 2;
11, Mozambique, 8, 2, 0, 6, 2;
12, Zambia, 8, 1, 0, 7, 1.