KZN seals promotion at SA U-19 IPT
Best laid plans often go haywire, but KwaZulu-Natal executed a perfectly plotted course in the B-Division to secure promotion in the South African Under-19 Inter-Provincial Championship at Krugersdorp Golf Club on Friday.
Nine years since their last triumph in the country’s largest junior team championship, KwaZulu-Natal already claimed the title on the third day of the competition with five victories.
They defeated Free State 8 – 4 and North West Province 9.5 – 2.5 on day one, handed Border a 10.5 – 1.5 drubbing in the second round and finished the third round at the top of the standings after a 7 -5 result against Boland.
Instead of taking in a movie or lying by the pool at the hotel, the eight-man side spent their fourth round bye at the Momentum World of Golf to keep sharp for the final tussle against Eastern Province.
The boys in black finished the week in outstanding style by keeping their unbeaten record intact with another 7 – 5 result in the final round.
Skipper Matt Saulez was absolutely thrilled with the team’s performance.
“It is never easy to win all your games at the IPT,” said Saulez, who capped a spectacular week with an ace at the par-three sixth, where he holed out from 129 meters with a gap wedge.
“One of our goals was to win the B-Division and we did that on Wednesday. Our other goal was to keep our 100% record intact for our manager Shelagh Digby and our assistant manager Joseph Kunene, who both put so much work into our preparation and the organising and behind the scenes stuff. Finishing six for six was one of the ways we could say thanks.”
The champions tied the Foursomes with Eastern Province, but Ben Botha, Jason Broomhead, Anuerin Gounden, Luke Mayo and skipper Saulez notched the Singles victories that carried KwaZulu-Natal to a two point victory in the final tussle.
“It was important to make sure that we never got ahead of ourselves and that we played every game for the team and not for the man,” Saulez said.
“I think we made a proper job of winning this year. You can’t argue with six matches and six wins. We are a team that has no superstars, just eight guys who all bat from one to eight.”
KwaZulu-Natal Golf Union president Neil Champion was brimming with pride following the trophy ceremony.
“KZN won seven times between 1979 and 2005 and we have a proud history in this tournament,” Champion said.
“The tournament was split into two divisions in 2013, and we had to fight our way out of the B-Division. I am extremely proud that the lads did this in two years and we have booked our berth in the A-Division for Worcester Golf Club next year.
“These youngsters played for KZN and played for each other. They dovetailed superbly in the Foursomes and they played for results in the Singles.
“If you want me to tell you who was the most valuable player in the team was this week, I’ll tell you that it was Ben, Jason, Ruben (Coertzer), Aneurin, Gregory (Mckay), Keagan (Thomas), Luke and Matt.
“I am incredibly proud of our team, for their complete commitment to the team, for their dedication to the end goal and for sticking it out to get through the tough times to pull off an incredible victory.
“I am equally proud of Shelagh and Joseph, whose guidance carried these youngsters to the winner’s circle.”
Kwazulu-Natal finished on 12 points, four points ahead of Boland, who vaulted to second after defeating North West Province 8 – 4 in the final round.
Free State handed Border a 10.5 – 1.5 hiding to take third in the standings on eight points, but eight games points behind Boland.
1 KwaZulu-Natal (6, 6, 0, 0, 12, 51.5)
2 Boland (6, 4, 0, 2, 8, 47.5)
3 Free State (6, 3, 2, 1, 8, 39.5)
4 Eastern Province (6, 3, 1, 2, 7, 35.0)
5 Mpumalanga (6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 29.0)
6 North West Province (6, 1, 1, 4, 3, 29.5)
7 Border (6, 0, 0, 6, 0, 20.0)
PHOTO – The triumphant KwaZulu-Natal team who claimed promotion as the B-Division champions in the 2014 South African Under-19 Inter-Provincial at Krugersdorp Golf Club; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA
Back, ltr – Neil Champion (KZNGU President); Shelagh Digby (Manager); Anuerin Gounden; Luke Mayo; Matt Saulez (captain); Keagan Thomas; Joseph Kunene (Assistant Manager)
Front ltr – Ruben Coetzer; Gregory McKay; Ben Botha; Jason Broomhead
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.