SA stave off Scots to win Leopard Trophy
The South African team staved off a spirited final round attack from their Scottish opponents to lift the Leopard Trophy in the fourth annual clash between the two golfing nations Leopard Creek on Wednesday.
The crucial four winning points for their narrow 15.5 – 12.5 victory were secured by SA number two Zander Lombard, his playing partner Louis Taylor and new caps Gerlou Roux and Callum Mowat in what turned into a cliff hanger final round.
Having won two foursomes, six singles and halving a single on Tuesday, the home side held an 8.5 – 5.5 lead going into the final round. They extended their overnight lead to four points after winning the final round morning session 3-2 and, with 11.5 points to 7.5, the South Africans looked to be in the drivers seat.
But the nine-man squad soon had their job cut out when the Scots came out firing on all cylinders in the afternoon singles.
Fraser McKenna claimed the first scalp when he beat SA number one Haydn Porteous 4&3 and it looked to be down to Lombard, Taylor and Roux to keep ahead and claim the winning three points for the team, as the Scots quickly took control in the lower order matches.
The South African pair were both 1-up through 15 holes. Lombard chipped in from the edge of the green at 16 to go 2-up on Ewan Scott, while Taylor made par to keep his 1-up lead over Fraser Moore in tact.
At the 17th, Lombard reached the green in two and left his birdie putt just short of the hole, thus forcing Scott to make his birdie effort from 15 feet below the hole to extend the match.
But the 17-year-old Scot gave the putt a little too much steam and it raced eight feet past. With the match conceded and one vital point in the bag, the pressure was on Taylor to follow suit.
The Harrismith golfer executed a brilliant chip from the back-edge of the green to six feet and boxed the putt, putting pressure on Moore to go for broke.
But the Scot’s putt came up short and South Africa added another point to the their tally.
Roux, meanwhile, also took command in his clash with Graham Gordon and reached the 17th with a 1-up advantage, but his playing partner matched Roux shot for shot through the par four.
At the par-five 18th, Roux laid up and hit his third pin high, 15-feet right, while Gordon went for the green in two. His ball caught the back edge of the green and he covered the 60-foot to the pin with a excellent chip that pitched just inside Roux’s putt.
Both players missed their birdie chances, but Roux claimed the match and the win for South Africa when he knocked in the putt for par.
The Bellville golfer said it was a relief to sink the putt, especially after letting himself down against Ewan Scott with a 7&6 defeat in the morning session on Tuesday.
“I feel like I’ve aged 70 years and I wasn’t young to begin with,” sighed the 30-something former professional. “Graham and I are old adversaries. We played each other on the Euro Pro Tour and I knew I was in for the long haul against him and it was a tough match.
“He wasn’t feeling to well, but he matched me shot for shot all day long. He is one cool competitor. At the end of the day, all that matters is that I won. I’m an old dog and it feels great to lead by example.”
With South Africa’s third victory in the annual match-up secured, the rest of the matches were a mere formality, but the new caps still enjoyed the opportunity to test themselves against the Scottish players that represent the Scottish Golf Union’s Mens Performance and Transitional squads.
Tertius van den Berg, who rallied from 4-down to lose 2&1 to Michael Daily, was smiling broadly when he got a round of applause from his fellow competitors at the 17th green.
“That was a fantastic experience, even if I was on the losing end both days,” the 22-year-old said. “It is such an incredible opportunity that we’ve been given to test ourselves against players of this calibre. I’m really thankful that I’ve had this experience.”
In the other matches, Dylan Raubenheimer was beaten 4&2 by Jamie Savage, Aubrey Barnard lost to Scott Crichton 3&1, Ross Bell defeated Werner Ferreira 2-up, but Callum Mowat added a final point to South African tally when downed Scott Borrowman 1-up.
South Africa won the inaugural Test in 2010 and were the champions again in 2011, but the Scots turned the tables on their hosts last year.
The annual tournament forms part of the Scottish team’s annual eight week winter training programme, made possible by Leopard Creek proprietor Johann Rupert and Aberdeen Asset Management.
Final Round Morning Session Result:
(SA 1st; Scotland 2nd)
Gerlou Roux lost to Scott Crichton 3&2
Haydn Porteous & Louis Taylor beat Fraser McKenna & Ewan Scott 2&1
Zander Lombard & Tertius van den Berg beat Graham Gordon & Jamie Savage 5&3
Aubrey Barnard & Dylan Raubenheimer lost to Michael Daily & Fraser Moore 4&3
Werner Ferreira & Callum Mowat beat Ross Bell & Scott Borrowman 1-up
Final Round Singles Results:
(SA 1st; Scotland 2nd)
Haydn Porteous lost to Fraser McKenna 4&3
Zander Lombard beat Ewan Scott 3&1
Louis Taylor beat Fraser Moore 2&1
Gerlou Roux beat Graham Gordon 1-up
Dylan Raubenheimer lost to Jamie Savage 4&2
Tertuis van den Berg lost to Michael Daily 2&1
Aubrey Barnard lost to Scott Crichton 3&1
Werner Ferreira lost to Ross Bell 2-up
Callum Mowat beat Scott Borrowman 1-up