SA and Scots at stalemate in Leopard Trophy
South Africa and Scotland are poised for an epic final day showdown in the annual Leopard Trophy after the Scottish team rallied to deadlock the Test at 6-all on Wednesday.
The national team held a 3 -1 cushion after a superb performance in the Foursomes at Leopard Creek, but the Scottish Golf Union squad produced the magic to square the Test with four victories and two halves in Singles.
The two teams also drew 6-all in last year’s first round, but the Scots prevailed 14-10.
National coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen is positive that the visitors won’t have an easy time to gain the upper hand again.
“The team dovetailed really well in the Foursomes, but they let themselves down in the Singles,” he said. “However, most of the games were very tight, and a couple could have gone the other way.
“The players are incredibly motivated for the final round and I believe we will see some fantastic contests on Thursday.”
Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson and Craig Ross handed Ekurhuleni pair Tristen Strydom and Paul Boshoff a 9 & 8 drubbing to claim first blood for Scotland.
Fellow Ekurhuleni player Stefan Cronje and Gerlou Roux from Western Province retaliated to beat Danny Young and Jamie Savage 6 & 5. Gauteng North pair Jason Smith and Teaghan Gauche put South Africa further ahead with a 4 & 3 result against Connor Syme and Ben Kinsley and Central Gauteng’s Matthew Spacey and Hendrikus Stoop from Gauteng North wrapped up the 3 – 1 lead when they defeated Greig Marchbank and Scott Gibson 2 & 1.
“Our boys were pretty downtrodden after the Foursomes, but they came back with vigour in the Singles,” said Scottish Golf Union coach and former European Tour player, David Orr.
“The set-up in the morning session caught them out, but they stuck to their strategies and game plans in the Singles to turn the tide for us. They executed really well to put us back in the contest.
“We’ll have a chat about the Foursomes this evening and decide on some strategies for the final round. The games are going to be really tight and we will see some great battles unfolding down the home stretch on Thursday.”
Cronje faced Savage, making his third appearance in the annual two-day Test, in the Singles and the new cap claimed a superb 5 & 4 win for South Africa.
The joy was short-lived, as Ross, Gibson and Marchbank all took 2 & 1 conquests for Scotland and Syme took their tally to four points when he defeated former SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith 1-up.
Spacey put the brakes on the bleeding when he downed Kinsley 2 & 1 and Strydom, who smarted after the Foursomes defeat, showed his class under pressure when he took Ferguson all the way to the 18th hole.
The reigning Scottish Boys Match Play and Stroke Play champion was 1-up and drained a 15-foot birdie putt to put pressure on Strydom. The 17-year-old SA number one responded by boxing a 15-footer for eagle to halve the game.
Roux, coming off a mid-amateur victory on Sunday, drew on all his experience to hold off a charging Young and halved his game for the crucial half point that squared the first round.
ROUND ONE RESULTS
(Scottish players first)
Ewen Ferguson & Craig Ross beat Tristen Strydo and Paul Boshoff 9 & 8
Connor Syme & Ben Kinsley lost to Teaghan Gauche & Jason Smith 4 & 3
Greig Marchbank & Scott Gibson lost to Matthew Spacey & Hendrikus Stoop 2 & 1
Danny Young & Jamie Savage lost to Stefan Cronje & Gerlou Roux 6 & 5.
Ewen Ferguson halved Tristen Strydom
Connor Syme beat Jason Smith 1-up
Craig Ross beat Paul Boshoff 2 & 1
Scott Gibson beat Teaghan Gauche 2 & 1
Ben Kinsley lost to Matthew Spacey 2 & 1
Greig Marchbank beat Hendrikus Stoop 2 & 1
Danny Young halved Gerlou Roux
Jamie Savage lost to Stefan Cronje 5 & 4
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.