SA team geared for Zone VI defence

South Africa will launch their Africa Zone VI Golf Championships title defence at Windhoek Golf and Country Club on Tuesday following a successful campaign in the 30th Bank Windhoek Namibia Open Golf Championships on the weekend.

Since the 54-hole event was played at the same venue, the eight-man South African side made good use of their participation in the curtain-raiser to prepare for the upcoming annual African team event.

Zander Lombard, the country’s number two ranked player, edged out countryman Louis Taylor in a play-off to lift the overall title, while Taylor and compatriots Gerlou Roux, Tertius van den Berg and Andrew Light all won individual prizes.

Lombard and Taylor both came from behind in the final round to tie at 211 in regulation play.

Taylor had a chance to win the event at the first extra hole, but rushed a six-foot putt past the hole. Lombard clinched the victory when his approach shot at the 18th hole pitched 10-feet behind the pin and spun back to a couple of inches.

Taylor, third on the current South African Golf Association rankings, won Overall Runner-up Gross division on 212, while Roux won the A-Division Runner-Up Nett on 218, Van den Berg the A-Division Runner-Up Gross on 212 and Light the A-Division Winner Gross on 212.

Light from George is one of the three new caps that will debut for South Africa at this year’s Africa Zone VI Golf Championships.

The two other new caps are reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence from Nelspruit, ranked sixth, and 10th ranked Eddie Taylor from Harrismith, who plays out of Country Club Johannesburg.

The threesome will line up alongside Lombard, the only member from the team that secured South Africa’s 12th victory in Malawi last year, as well as Taylor, Roux, Van den Berg and Werner Ferreira, who all earned their national colours at the Leopard Trophy against Scotland in March.

Llewellyn van Leeuwen, who accompanied the team as their coach and captain, said that the chance for the team to compete in the Bank Windhoek Namibia Open Golf Championships was a fantastic opportunity for everyone on the team.

“The players really enjoyed the chance to play the course a couple of times,” Van Leeuwen said. “They got to know the layout and the undulations on the greens and they are well prepared for their title defence.

“It was also a good opportunity for me to study the players. We fine-tuned a few things and it gave me a chance to work on our strategy for the Zone VI Championship.”

South Africa has lifted the Africa Zone VI Golf Championships title a record 12 times since it launched in 2000 and Van Leeuwen said the team is determined to make it 13 victories when the championship tees off from 23-26 April.

“The guys are highly motivated,” he said. “They know the country’s pride is on the line and they don’t want to disappoint. They are geared up to deliver another winning performance for South Africa.”

In addition to the defending champions and the host nation, this year’s championship in Windhoek has attracted entries from Malawi, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique.

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