Pride on the line at SA Inter-Provincial
It has been 28 years since Gauteng North last lifted the South African Inter-Provincial title. In fact, the team was still called Northern Transvaal when they celebrated victory in East London Golf Club in 1984.
And it doesn’t help knowing that their female equivalents are hunting a seventh consecutive victory in the Pick n Pay SA Women’s IPT at Port Elizabeth Golf Club this week.
“And, as if that’s not enough pressure, their B-team won promotion last year, so the ladies are going into their title defence with double the firing power,” grinned Gauteng North manager, Gerry Few, ahead of this week’s 53rd South African Inter-Provincial Championship, sponsored by Tempest, at Rustenburg Golf Club.
“Of course we want to win. In fact, I think we are way past due a win, because we have come close on many occasions. But you have to pull it through; coming close is just not good enough.”
If one based their chances on the current South African Golf Association’s rankings, this could be the year that Gauteng North changes the course of history.
Skipper Tokkie van den Berg, ranked 14th, will be captaining a side that includes the respective number two, seven, 11, 13, 15 and 17 – Zander Lombard, Teaghan Gauche, Werner van Niekerk, Philip Kruse and Werner Ferreira – as well as Russell Franz.
However, when presented with the rankings, Few quickly points out that format, not form, comes up trumps in the inter-provincial.
“I’ve heard it bandied about that we are supposed to be the favourites on paper, but we have finished short of the podium enough times to know that paper is just that, paper,” said Few. “Yes, we have a strong team, but we have taken nothing for granted.
“We had a lot of practice sessions ahead of the championship, and our players have also been staying competitive in tournaments here and abroad. The guys are definitely sharp and in form, but I think the fact that they have become a tight unit over the last few weeks, will be a great driving force this week.”
Although defending champions Boland and Western Province both pose a risk in terms of form and experience, skipper Van den Berg views all the teams in the A-Division as possible threats.
“The format of this tournament makes everything unpredictable,” Van den Berg said.
“With foursomes and singles it really is a case of anything can happen, especially over the course of five days. Patience, determination and skill can all add up to a winning recipe, but if the other side has all the luck, what can you do?
“You have to play this tournament hole-by-hole, round-by-round and start every day off with a clean slate. And the guys have to play for each other; there is no space for ego in this format.”
Central Gauteng, the winners in 2010 and 2009 champions KwaZulu-Natal complete the A-Division line-up alongside Southern Cape, who earned promotion at Port Elizabeth Golf Club last year.
The B-Division will see local favourites North West Province go head-to-head in the fight for promotion against Border, Eastern Province, Ekurhuleni, Free State & Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and last year’s relegated side, Limpopo.