SA beat Scots in own back yard

South Africa’s top amateurs took the sting out of a home defeat earlier this year by beating their Scottish rivals by one point to win the Friendship Quaich at the prestigious Prestwick Golf Club on Thursday.

The Scots held a one point edge at 5-4 going into the second round, but the South Africans fought vehemently to level the scores in the morning foursomes. With the two-day contest down to the wire, Shaun Smith managed to halve his match with Paul Shields to hand the home side a crucial half point for a 9½ – 8½ victory.

Earlier, Smith and CJ du Plessis beat Brian Soutar and Adam Dunton 2&1, while Haydn Porteous and JP Strydom beat Fraser McKenna and James White at the last to level the score at six apiece.

In cold and windy afternoon conditions, it was the Scots who drew first blood.

Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Soutar knocked out Boland’s Drikus Bruyns 2&1 while Strydom from Western Province lost 3&1 to Graeme Robertson, who tied for third at last weekend’s St Andrews Links Trophy.

But Central Gauteng’s Porteous stepped up to stem the bleeding.

The country’s number two ranked player took care of Fraser McKenna 3&2 to narrow the gap and Gert Myburgh followed suit. The Ekurhuleni player has been struggling to come to terms with the unfamiliar conditions since the team arrived in Scotland, but found his form when it was most needed to edge out Dunton by one hole and square the match once again.

Limpopo’s Du Plessis, who knocked out Soutar 6&4 on Wednesday, underlined his value in the team when he downed last year’s Scottish Golf Union Order of Merit winner White 2/1 to put the South Africans ahead 9-8.

Although the Shields was the natural favourite in the final match, Southern Cape’s Smith sunk everything into the task of keeping the 2011 Sanlam SA Amateur runner-up at bay.

The pair traded blows until the last hole, but although Shields hit an excellent trap shot into the last green, he missed a vital 15-foot birdie putt to win the match, handing Smith the crucial half point to secure a thrilling win for the home side.

Victorious team captain and president of the South African Golf Association, Colin Burger, expressed his thanks to the hosts for the growing bond between the two nations:

“It was a very tough and competitive match played with great spirit,” said Burger. “Over the past three years we have developed a great relationship with the Scottish Golf Union and we hope to continue this partnership, from which we both can benefit.”

Burger said the team has thoroughly enjoyed their time in Scotland, especially the last few days at Prestwick.

“The course was magnificent with some great characteristics and certainly offered something new that the boys will take home with them in terms of experience,” Burger said. “The players have truly benefited from this tour to Scotland, especially if you compare their knowledge of this style of golf and golf course to what they knew before. It is great to win, but the experience of playing true links golf is of far greater importance for our team.”

Scottish Golf Union national coach, Ian Rae, believes the Test Match will boost all the players’ chances of success at The Amateur Championship next week:

“It’s been a good match with a lot of good golf on show over the past two days. South Africa were a tough side, so it’s really good to play top level opposition in match play on links golf ahead of competing at Royal Troon and Glasgow Gailes next week.”

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