Scots take fifth Leopard Trophy
Scotland halted South Africa’s winning run in the Leopard Trophy with a 14-10 victory in a thrilling encounter at the magnificent Leopard Creek near Malelane on Wednesday.
The Scots took the early lead in the foursomes on day one, but the South Africans mounted a strong comeback to level the Test at 6-all. However, for a second successive day the Scots took control in the Foursomes and handed the local heroes a 4-0 drubbing.
“We went into the Singles 10 – 6 down, but the team was motivated to come back again and fought incredibly hard,” said SA national coach, Llewellyn van Leeuwen.
“We managed to win three games and halve two others, but in the end, we fell short of the target. Hats off to the Scots, though, because this was undoubtedly one of the strongest teams to ever come to South Africa and our players thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.”
The Scottish team, comprised players form the Scottish Golf Union’s National Mens, Transition and Boys squads, also fielded six debutants like South Africa.
And, like the host nation, some of their new also delivered some surprising blows.
Zander Lombard and Louis Taylor, the two stalwarts of the victorious SA side last year, were among the first to fall. Craigie Hill’s Daniel Young defeated Lombard from Gauteng North 3 & 1, while Conner Syme from Dumfries & County dispatched Central Gauteng’s Taylor 4 & 3.
Cawder’s Jamie Savage, out on his second trip to South Africa, picked up the team’s third point when he downed NJ Arnoldi from Ekurhuleni 2 & 1.
“The new caps all performed well and this bodes well for the future of Scottish golf,” said Scottish national coach, Ian Rae.
“We are obviously delighted with the victory, but I don’t think one should lose sight of the experience that both teams gained here this week. For us, to come out to a magnificent course like this each year and to expose our players to this type of course, the grass and weather is invaluable.
“But for the South Africans the chance to play against international competition is equally important.
“Irrespective of the result, and who lifted the magnificent Leopard trophy, both teams are winners.”
The South African debutants performed equally well.
SA number one Christiaan Bezuidenhout went up against Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil in a tightly-fought contest. The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation player from Ekurhuleni got the better of the 2013 Scottish Boys U-18 champion to win 1-up.
Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence from Mpumalanga took Ewen Ferguson from Bearsden 2 & 1, while Gauteng North’s Werner van Niekerk secured South Africa’s third point when he downed Scott Gibson from Southerness 3 & 2.
Rookies Philip Kruse from Gauteng North and Matthew Spacey from Central Gauteng delivered the half points against Ben Kinsley from St Andrews and Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson respectively.
Leopard Trophy forms part of their annual eight week winter training programme, which is supported by Leopard Creek proprietor Johann Rupert and Aberdeen Asset Management.
While Neil and Robertson will be departing for Scotland early next week, the remainder of the side will be travelling to the Western Cape to chase a Scottish hat-trick at the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship at Hermanus Golf Club from 25 – 28 February.
Zander Lombard / Thriston Lawrence lost Bradley Neil / Daniel Young 3 & 2
NJ Arnoldi / Christiaan Bezuidenhout lost Conner Syme / Ben Kinsley 1-down
Louis Taylor / Matthew Spacey lost Ewen Ferguson / Jamie Savage 3 & 1
Philip Kruze / Werner van Niekerk lost Graeme Robertson / Scott Gibson 2 & 1
SINGLES DRAW (SA vs SCOTLAND):
Christiaan Bezuidenhout beat Bradley Neil 1-up
Zander Lombard lost Daniel Young 3 & 2
Thriston Lawrence beat Ewen Ferguson 2 & 1
NJ Arnoldi lost Jamie Savage 2 & 1
Louis Taylor lost Connor Syme 4 & 3
Philip Kruse halved Ben Kingsley
Werner van Niekerk beat Scott Gibson 3 & 2
Matthew Spacey halved Graeme Robertson