Limpopo claims historic promotion at SA IPT

While the battle for supremacy between Central Gauteng, Gauteng North and KwaZulu-Natal will continue in Friday’s final round, the B-Section celebrations started early as Limpopo Province sealed a historic promotion in the fourth round of the South African Inter Provincial at Bloemfontein Golf Club today.

A draw against Eastern Province and earlier victories this week over Free State & Northern Cape and North West gave the Far North side an edge coming into the fourth round.

Stepping up to the challenge, the young squad mowed down Border 8-4 and thumped Mpumalanga 6½ – 5½ for their third and fourth wins, cementing their position at the top of the B-Section log in spectacular style.

“It’s a great feeling to realise that the outcome of our match against North West tomorrow will be irrelevant to our standing,” said an emotional Johan Krugel. “This is a historic day for Limpopo. It’s the first time we challenged in the B-Section, the first time we’ve won and for the first time ever, we will be playing with the big dogs.”

Although Henk Geldenhuys and Paul de Beer were on the negative side in today’s singles against Mpumalanga and Border, Jannie Bronkhorst, Hilton Hughes, Nico Myburgh, Tiaan Diedericks, Jacques Kruyswijk and CJ du Plessis pulled off the unthinkable – winning nearly all their singles to guarantee Limpopo’s ascendancy. Nel came away all square in his match against Mpumalanga’s Jerry Steyn and Hughes lost 3&2 to Conrad Gordon-Grant of Border.

The team collected nine points and 35 games to top of the log, with Kruyswijk and Bronkhorst contributing eight and seven points respectively.

“Jannie and I played well, yes, but this victory was really a team effort,” said Kruyswijk. “We got our combinations right, the team communicated well and every individual player did his duty to himself and the team.

“Johan was a constant inspiration and he helped us push ourselves to this victory.”

Krugel explained that this year, Limpopo got the winning recipe just right.

“We put a lot more thought into our team selection this year and we prepared well, including a training camp where we worked on our combinations and team spirit,” he said. “We came to win and it’s an incredible feeling to have pulled this off.

“We have 12 months to prepare for our debut in the A-Section and it will be something else. We are not going to take our preparations lightly because we waited too long for this promotion.”

In the A-Section, KwaZulu-Natal joined the hunt for glory after Central Gauteng faltered against defending champions Western Province and Southern Cape threw a major spanner in the works by derailing Gauteng North’s march to victory.

Having plotted a course to win in their first year back in the A-Section, things were pretty much going to plan for Gauteng North with two victories and a draw.

The tournament favourites were unpleasantly surprised by Southern Cape, who after three successive losses, did the unthinkable to win 6½ – 5½.

“We were certainly not playing to form today,” said manager Johan Steyn. “We had a lot of opportunities to win, but we wasted our chances and a couple of players didn’t close the deal.

“If we want to win this title on Friday, we will have to pull out all the stops.”

Reinard Killian was absolutely thrilled with his team’s performance.

“No-one comes to an IPT to lose, yet we suffered three losses in a row,” he said. “We lost every match in the foursomes, so that is what we addressed and it paid off. Now it’s up to us to save ourselves from relegation. We have only one chance and that is to beat Boland, so every guy on the team will have to bring his A-game.”

While the final was expected to come down to Gauteng North and Central Gauteng, 2009 champions KwaZulu-Natal threw their name in the hat when they beat Boland 9-3. Tied with Gauteng North on five points, the 2010 runners-up could run away with the title if they can get the better of Western Province on Friday.

“Two days ago we weren’t sure if we could pull it off, but the combinations worked for us and here we are with a shot at the title,” said team manager Ivan Curlewis. “It’s a great position to be in, but after that performance of Western Province today, it’s going to be an uphill battle from start to finish to beat them on Friday.”

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