SA team primed for Ten Nations Cup

Top South African golfers Haydn Porteous, Zander Lombard, Dylan Raubenheimer and Louis Taylor have declared themselves ready to challenge for a home victory at the inaugural Ten Nations Cup in George this week.

The Ten Nations Cup is an amalgamation of the biennial Four Nations Cup and the Southern Cross Trophy and will be contested between South Africa and teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Colombia.

The four players got their first look at the Kingswood Golf Estate layout on Sunday, where the South African Golf Association (SAGA) is hosting the international teams event from 6-9 February.

Ahead of their first practice round, SA number one Porteous said he is thrilled at the prospect of challenging against top amateurs from the eight visiting countries.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for us,” he said. “We will be going up against some of the top amateurs in the world.

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for us to test ourselves against the likes of Brady Watt from Australia, and Max Orrin and Toby Tree from England. We were all disappointed that the Welsh team had to withdraw, but we are still looking forward to an incredible competition.”

Porteous enjoyed a breakout season in 2012. Victories at the SA Stroke Play, KwaZulu-Natal Match Play, the Boland Open, Limpopo Open and the Oppenheimer Trophy lifted him to the top of the rankings, while on the international front, the 18-year-old tied for second at the Carrick Neill Scottish Stroke Play Championship and posted a top 20 finish at the St Andrews Links Trophy.

The Modderfontein amateur was instrumental in securing the country’s 12th Africa Zone VI Golf Championships title in April last year. He also partnered Lombard and former number one Brandon Stone at the World Amateur Team Championships in October, where the team overcame a sluggish start to finish in a tie for 23rd.

Currently ranked 36th in the official world amateur golf rankings, Porteous underlined his growing stature with victory at the season-opening Prince’s Grant Invitational and a tie for third at the KZN Open in January.

Coming off a tie for sixth at the Free State & Northern Cape Open at the weekend, new cap Taylor is equally excited to wear the green and gold this week.

“This is definitely a major step up for me and I’m really honoured to carry the flag for South Africa with Haydn, Zander and Dylan,” said Taylor, who plays out of Country Club Johannesburg. The 21-year-old Harrismith golfer catapulted into the top 10 in the SAGA rankings last year courtesy of consistent performances and six top 10 finishes.

“It is always great to test yourself against top amateurs from around the world, but our main goal will be to secure victory in the inaugural event here at home,” Taylor said. “We want to show the world that South Africa are a nation to be reckoned with.”

Lombard claimed the 2012 North West Open and Northern Amateur Stroke Play, narrowly lost out to England’s Tree at the Gauteng North Open and was one of only two South African amateurs to qualify for the US Open Amateur Championship last year.

In 2011, Lombard and Raubenheimer combined with Ian Snyman for a third place finish in the Nation’s Trophy at the 11 Italian Individual U-16 Championship. The pair made a hefty contribution to South Africa’s 31-shot victory at the All-Africa Junior Golf Championships at the Gaborone Golf Club last April and were members of the SA team that finished 10th at the World Junior Golf Team Championships in Japan.

The 18-year-old Pretoria amateur also welcomed the opportunity to line up against the big guns from the eight visiting nations.

“We have the unique chance to lift the first Ten Nations Cup here at home,” Lombard said. “It’s always great to get a chance to challenge top international amateurs. We welcome the chance to test ourselves against these guys and it’s great to gain some valuable competitive experience this early in the season.”

Raubenheimer won the prestigious Proudfoot Trophy in the Sanlam SA Match Play Championship Qualifier and the National Junior Club Championships title last year and also represented the Western Province at the SA IPT and SA Junior IPT.

Transitioning out of junior golf, claimed his first scalp on the Open Amateur circuit with a play-off victory at the Ekurhuleni Open.

Having worn the country’s colours at junior level, the new cap said he relishes the prospect of a South African victory in his first turn in full national colours.

“I am extremely excited and looking forward to a great competition,” Raubenheimer said. “We are all hungry for victory and winning on home soil is a huge motivating factor.”

Under the format of the Ten Nations Cup, all the team members will compete in all four rounds, with the best three scores from each round counting toward the overall team total.

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