New SA caps primed for Leopard Trophy glory
The South African team and their Scottish opposite numbers have enjoyed some great moments since arriving at Leopard Creek on Sunday, but as in any rugby, cricket or soccer match of international proportions, the camaraderie and friendship of the last two days will be put aside when the two teams face off in the fourth annual Leopard Trophy on Tuesday.
South Africa won the inaugural two-day Test at the Gary Player-designed championship layout near Malelane in 2010 and triumphed again in 2011, but the Scots claimed the early advantage last year and, despite a spirited charge on day two, the Scots scored a close victory to deny the home side their chance at a hat-trick.
South African number one Haydn Porteous and the second-ranked Zander Lombard and Scotland’s Fraser McKenna and Scott Crichton are the only members of the two teams that did battle last year.
“Louis Taylor and Dylan Raubenheimer debuted for South Africa in the recent Ten Nations and our new caps are Gerlou Roux, Aubrey Barnard, Werner Ferreira, Callum Mowat and Tertuis van den Berg,” said coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen.
“These nine players are among the best in South Africa and they are well prepared, coming off the SA Stroke and Sanlam SA Amateur. We’ve had two good practice sessions and we believe we have optimised our game plan, foursome pairings and strategies.”
Modderfontein’s Mowat declared the new caps ready for action.
“We lost the Test last year and the Scots also beat us in the SA amateur for the last two years,” he said. “So, there is a lot of pride at play, but Thriston Lawrence winning the Sanlam SA Amateur on Friday has us really fired us up to win.
“The South African Golf Association put their faith in us and we want to make sure it’s justified; we want to win for each other and we want the Leopard Trophy back on home soil.”
Porteous said the team would not make the mistake of underestimating the Scots this year.
“We led the foursomes and got too complacent and we got beaten solidly in the singles,” he said.
“We lost five out of seven games. Although we tried everything in the second round, we were always on the back foot. “We definitely won’t underestimate the Scots this year.”
But the Scottish new caps are also looking to make their mark.
“Fraser McKenna and Scott Crichton are the only players left over from last year’s victorious team,” explained National Mens Squad coach, Ian Rae.
“The new players making their debut at Leopard Creek include Graham Gordon, Ross Bell, Jamie Savage, Michael Daily, Fraser Moore, Scott Borrowman and 17-year-old Ewan Scott, who reached the semi-final at last week’s Sanlam SA Amateur.
“The new players are looking to make it two for two and they are quite a determined group. We look forward to a great Test between these teams. This one that could go down to the wire.”
McKenna won both his singles last year and combined with Crichton to win both foursomes. He, too, expects a strong challenge from the South Africans. “The SA side will want to hit back after losing last year, so we have to be prepared for them to come at us,” he said. “But we have a good mix of players this year. I believe we have the depth and strength in our side to make it two in a row.”
The Leopard Trophy Test is just one of several events that the Scottish players participate in each year during their eight-week winter training.
“Our players also play in the SA Stroke and Sanlam SA Amateur, some national Order of Merit tournaments, as well an annual one-day Triangular against a junior SA side and a team from the South African Golf Development Board,” said Scottish Golf Union chief executive Hamish Grey.
“We started coming out to South Africa four years ago with the support and sponsorship of Johann Rupert, Aberdeen Asset Management and the South African Golf Association. Without their continued support and involvement, this crucial eight-week training session would not have been possible.
“Not only have some of our players enjoyed success, but the real value lies in the fact that our players can prepare properly for the start of the European season by playing in top tournaments at great courses against top talent. You just can’t quantify the value of the winter training programme.
“There is a great amount of talent in South Africa and we are very privileged to have the opportunity to train against them.”
SAGA president Andre Pieterse agreed. “Like the Scottish Golf Union, we also lost a number of our top amateurs to the pro ranks in January. This Test, and having the players from the Scottish Golf Union’s Mens Performance and Transitional squads here for eight weeks to compete against our amateurs, gives us a great opportunity to test the depth of talent in South Africa. It also presents our players with the chance to gain invaluable experience against top international players.”
The format of the two-day test will be foursomes contested between four teams of eight plus a singles match in the morning, followed by nine singles in the afternoon on both days.
SA Senior Team
Haydn Porteous (Modderfontein GC, Central Gauteng)
Zander Lombard (Woodhill CC, Gauteng North)
Louis Taylor (CC Johannesburg, Central Gauteng)
Gerlou Roux (Bellville GC, Western Province)
Werner Ferreira (Wingate Park, Gauteng North)
Aubrey Barnard (Centurion CC, Gauteng North)
Dylan Raubenheimer (Strand GC, Western Province)
Callum Mowat (Modderfontein GC, Central Gauteng)
Tertius van den Berg (Pretoria GC, Gauteng North)
Reserve: Andrew Light (George GC, Southern Cape)
Fraser McKenna (Balmore)
Graham Gordon (Newmachar)
Ross Bell (Downfield)
Jamie Savage (Cawder)
Michael Daily (Erskine)
Fraser Moore (Glenbervie)
Scott Borrowman (Dollar)
Ewan Scott (St Andrews)
Scott Crichton (Aberdour)