SA Amateurs hunting success in New Zealand

While the South African rugby public still mourns the Springbok defeat at the World Cup, the country’s top four amateur golfers are even more determined to score a victory for South Africa in the Four Nations Cup in New Zealand this week.

“We were devastated to arrive in New Zealand and learn that the Springboks had crashed out of the world cup,” said Brandon Stone, the country’s number one ranked amateur. “But, in a bizarre way, it sort of motivated us even more to win this championship for South Africa.

“It is such a privilege for each of us to represent South Africa. We are going to give it our best shot to win the first Four Nations Cup.”

Stone, Ruan de Smidt, Haydn Porteous and Jared Harvey will go up against their counterparts from New Zealand, Australia and Argentina at The Hills in Arrowhead.

The stroke play tournament will be played over four rounds. The field will be made up of four fourballs, with one player from each country making up the fourballs. The best three scores per day will count towards the country’s overall result.

Porteous expects some tough opposition, especially from the New Zealand team.

“The New Zealand team are just back from Singapore, where they had a strong showing in the Asian Amateur Championship,” said the country’s number two. “I’m sure the Kiwis rate their chances because most of them have had the chance to play this course before.

“We’re not going to worry whether they have a slight advantage or not. We prepared well, we’ve had our practice rounds and all that counts, is what happens on the day.”

Although the course was snowed under three times in the winter months and recently endured five days of rain, it has held up well and both the fairways and greens are firm and fast. Considered one of the top golf courses in New Zealand, South African Golf Association’s Executive Director Bruce Younge considers the par-72 layout a stern test of shotmaking.

“This is not the type of layout where you can just fire at the flags,” said Younge, who has accompanied the team on their New Zealand trip.

“This course is a tough track. The greens are fast and firm and there is plenty of trouble with water hazards and bunkers; it demands good course management. They have also added some tees that has lengthened the course and that adds to the challenge.”

South African Stroke Play champion Harvey agreed.

“The rough is not up all that much but it is still penal,” he said. “Tee shots are still going to be critical because it will dictate which side of the green you can hit into because there are hardly any flags to attack. You have to strategize on almost every hole and you’ll need patience, lots of patience.”

De Smidt, who ranks second in the country, said the team is well prepared, though.

“Admittedly, we are a little nervous,” he said. “It’s a new event and a new course, so there are some butterflies. But we have prepared well, the team spirit is great and we are certainly determined to have a positive result. We just need to get those first shots off and the nerves will settle.”

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