SA Team named for Zone VI title defence
Reigning SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith and joint runner-up Stefan Cronje are primed for their South African debut at the Zone VI Golf Tournament in the Boland from 13-17 April.
Africa’s flagship team event attracts countries mainly from East and Southern Africa.
South Africa has dominated the tournament, winning it 18 times since 1995 when the country was readmitted to international golf and the only loss was when Kenya won in Botswana in 2010. South Africa has won the event outright each year, with the exception of 1998 when the team tied with Zimbabwe in Swaziland, but won on a count out of holes up.
South African Golf Association president Andre Pieterse welcomed the new faces to the team that will line up for the country’s title defence at Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate.
“Their performances this season and particularly their achievements at the SA Stroke Play in February lifted Jason and Stephan both into the top eight of our Open Amateur rankings and qualified them for the team,” Pieterse said.
“It may be the first time that Jason and Stefan wear the national colours, but they are very committed to the rest of the side and to keep South Africa’s winning record in this event going.”
Eighth-ranked Cronje joins fellow Ekurhuleni players Christiaan Bezuidenhout, ranked number one, and fourth ranked NJ Arnoldi, while number six Smith joins fellow Gauteng North player, SA number two Zander Lombard.
Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence from Mpumalanga, Gerlou Roux from Western Province and Central Gauteng’s Louis Taylor – ranked third, fifth and seventh – complete the side.
Lombard makes his third consecutive appearance for South Africa, while Lawrence, Roux and Taylor return for duty after helping South Africa to a four point victory over Zimbabwe at Windhoek Country Club last year.
“We are very proud of our record at the Africa Zone VI Golf Championships,” Pieterse said. “This championship ranks among the most prestigious on our annual calendar and is undoubtedly the most esteemed teams’ event in Africa.
“We have dominated the championship, but one can never afford to get complacent. The guys on the team all understand the pressure of the task ahead. Each year the standard gets higher and the teams we face get stronger, but they are committed to continue our winning run.
“But we are also excited to give the youngsters the opportunity to gain valuable experience at international level and we are confident that we are sending a strong team in to bat this year.”
TuksGolf Club and Academies head coach and technical director, Llewellyn van Leeuwen, will accompany the team as coach and captain.
In addition to the host nation, the other teams expected at to contend include Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, , Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho and Mauritius.
SA TEAM (*new caps)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (19 / Ekurhuleni)
Zander Lombard (19 / Gauteng North)
Thriston Lawrence (17 / Mpumalanga)
NJ Arnoldi (21 / Ekurhuleni)
Gerlou Roux (37, Bellville Golf Club / Western Province)
*Jason Smith (19, Irene Country Club / Gauteng North)
Louis Taylor (22, Country Club Johannesburg / Central Gauteng)
*Stefan Cronje (20, Nigel Golf Club / Ekurhuleni)