Rookies thrilled at SA squad call up
Four of the country’s top amateurs will debut in a South African National Team that will battle a top Scottish side at Leopard Creek near Malelane from 14 to 15 February 2012.
Southern Cape’s Shaun Smith, Drikus Bruyns from Boland, Western Province’s JP Strydom and Zander Lombard from Gauteng North are joining the country’s top three ranked golfers, Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous and CJ du Plessis in the third instalment of this annual two-day Test Match.
Lombard is thrilled with his selection to the squad and the prospect of continuing South Africa’s proud winning tradition in this tournament. The home side scored a convincing 21-7 victory in the inaugural Test in 2010 and won 18-12 last year.
“We all feel very honoured to be selected to represent South Africa,” said Lombard, who turned 17 on January 18 and is the youngest member of the squad. “The four of us have some big shoes to fill because the South African teams have been unbeaten for two years. We all want to continue the tradition and we will give our best effort not to disappoint.”
SAGA president, Colin Burger, confirmed that the first round of the tournament will feature foursomes and singles while the teams will play betterball and singles on day two.
“Since the teams consist of seven players each, we will include a singles match with the foursomes and betterball matches to even things out and ensure that everyone gets to play all four rounds.”
In the first four weeks of the new year, some members of the squad have already underlined their selection.
Stone, the country’s leading amateur, won the Prince’s Grant Invitational by six strokes and KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play by three and 17-year-old Lombard wrapped up his first victory of the year when he won the first event on this year’s Glacier Junior Series at Mowbray Golf Club.
Smith, Du Plessis and Porteous, who clinched the Nomads National Order of Merit Tournament, also posted top 10 finishes at Prince’s Grant and Durban Country Club, while Bruyns and Strydom finished in the top 20 at the Invitational.
Stone, who made his debut alongside Du Plessis and Porteous last year, said the new caps will add a lot of depth to the team.
“All four rookies have unique styles which means we can cover each other’s weakness, especially given the format of the tournament,” he said.
“Zander is one of the longest drivers on the amateur circuit and very accurate. JP is one of the best wind players. Drikus is probably one of the best ball strikers in the country, and Shaun one of the best strategists. It’s fantastic to have such diversity going up against top-ranked Scottish players.”
Burger said the visitors provide the country’s top amateurs the chance to gain invaluable experience.
“When Johann Rupert first brought out a Scottish side for a seven-week training camp in 2010, the Scottish Golf Union sent their best representative side to our country,” he explained.
“Most of the players in the team were ranked inside the top 200 in the world and we played a Test and our Juniors played a match against them and the South African Golf Development Board.
“Last year they sent an equally strong squad, but in addition to the Test their players also competed in some of our national tournaments and our flagship events, the SA Stroke Play and Sanlam SA Amateur ; in fact, their Scottish number two, Michael Stewart, won the Sanlam SA Amateur and went on to lose in the final of The Amateur Championship later on in the year.
“We are once again hosting a top squad and it is a fantastic opportunity for our leading amateurs to test themselves against some of the best golfers in the world.”
Team South Africa:
Brandon Stone (Gauteng North)
Haydn Porteous (Central Gauteng)
CJ du Plessis (Limpopo)
Shaun Smith (Southern Cape)
Drikus Bruyns (Boland)
JP Strydom (Western Province)
Zander Lombard (Gauteng North)
Reserve: Pedrie Oosthuizen (Gauteng North)
Manager: Colin Burger