SA fight back to lead Leopard Trophy
The South African team launched a spirited comeback in their afternoon singles to edge to a three point lead over Scotland in the first round of the Leopard Trophy at Leopard Creek, near Malelane.
The morning foursomes delivered two wins and two losses for both teams, but the Scots held a 3-2 advantage when 17-year-old Ewan Scott from St Andrews beat fourth-ranked Gerlou Roux from Bellville 7&6 in the single match.
Trailing by one, reigning SA Stroke Play champion Haydn Porteous spearheaded the charge into the afternoon singles and equalled the score when he claimed the first scalp with a 3&2 victory over Fraser McKenna.
Louis Taylor enjoyed a birdie rampage and, although his brilliant run from the 10th to the 16th was briefly interrupted by a conceded eagle-three at the par-five 13th, beat Scott Crichton 3&2 to put the home side ahead.
Playing partner Zander Lombard was 4-down to Scott Crichton after 11 holes, but a birdie at the 12th got the country’s number two going and he managed to halve his game and give South Africa its first half point.
Roux redeemed himself with a convincing 5&4 result over Scott Borrowman, before Fraser Moore scored the first point for the Scots with a 5&4 win over Dylan Raubenheimer. Michael Daily levelled the scores at 5 ½ each when he downed new cap Tertius van den Berg 5&4.
Down to the last three games, the new caps stepped up and delivered, starting with Aubrey Barnard who wrapped up a 1-up victory over Scott Bell at the 18th to turn the tide back in South Africa’s favour.
In the final game, both South Africans dunked their tee shots in the drink at the par-three 16th, but Werner Ferreira got a reprieve from Jamie Savage and kept his 1-up advantage after the Scot ran his birdie putt past the hole and missed the return putt for par.
The Pretoria amateur kept his nose in front when both he and Savage bogeyed the 17th, but the match stayed in his favour when his tee shot finished a meter right of the fairway and Savage’s tee shot found the right fairway bunker.
Savage splashed it out but only got 30 meters down the fairway and had to go for the green in three.
Ferreira, who laid up, hit his approach to 25 foot below the pin. Savage’s approach clung to the front edge of the green and he chipped it up to four feet, but Ferreira lagged his putt to give and the Scott conceded the match.
Mowat, meanwhile, lost his 1-up advantage over Graham Gordon at the 16th’s, but both players caught some trouble at the next hole. The South African dumped his tee shot in the fairway bunker right and Gordon’s drive veered left into the bush, forcing him back to the tee.
After launching a provisional straight down the fairway, Gordon hit a brilliant approach to 15-foot and boxed his putt for par, while Mowat’s trap shot caught the lip, he reached the green in three and two-putted for par.
The pair set off for the final hole, still level, but while the South African split the fairway with his tee shot and could go for the green in two, Gordon narrowly avoided the water hazard and had to lay up. The Scot’s approach finished 20-feet left of the hole and he lagged his putt to two feet.
Mowat’s cool head under pressure held up as he executed a perfect chip from 60 foot and boxed the four-footer for birdie and the game.
“I lost it a little when I hit the water on 16 and then the bunker on 17, but knowing I still had one hole left to win the game, I managed to get it together again,” Mowat said. “It’s match play; you never give up until that final putt drops.”
Coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen was thrilled with the comeback, but cautioned his side not to get over-confident. “The guys showed a lot of character this afternoon and even in the two match we lost, Dylan and Tertius showed a lot of guts and determination,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that they were all committed for the full 18 holes, but we still have another round to play and I believe the Scots will come back hard at us tomorrow.”
Having won in 2010 and 2011, the South Africans are chasing their third victory in this annual test that pits a team of South Africa’s leading amateurs against a Scottish side comprising nine players drawn from the Scottish Golf Union’s Mens Performance and Transitional squads.
FIRST ROUND RESULT (SA 1st; SCOTLAND 2nd):
Gerlou Roux lost to Ewan Scott 7&6
Haydn Porteous & Louis Taylor beat Fraser McKenna & Scott Crichton 2-up
Zander Lombard & Tertius van den Berg beat Ross Bell & Scott Borrowman 5&4
Callum Mowat & Dylan Raubenheimer lost to Michael Daily & Fraser Moore 2-down
Aubrey Barnard & Werner Ferreira lost to Graham Gordon & Jamie Savage 5&4
Haydn Porteous beat Fraser McKenna 3&2
Louis Taylor beat Ewan Scott 3&2
Zander Lombard halved Scott Crichton
Gerlou Roux beat Scott Borrowman 5&4
Dylan Raubenheimer lost to Fraser Moore 5&4
Tertuis van den Berg lost to Michael Daily 5&4
Aubrey Barnard beat Ross Bell 1-up
Werner Ferreira beat Jamie Savage 1-up
Callum Mowat beat Graham Gordon 1-up