WP going for back-to-back Inter-Provincial glory

Defending champions Western Province are hunting a seventeenth South African Inter-Provincial title when the South African Golf Association’s premier team competition tees off at Bloemfontein Golf Club from September 19-23.

The Cape side was also on the winning end when the Free State club last hosted the SA Inter-Provincial in 2000, but the defending champions will start without IPT veterans Robbie Oosthuizen and Aaron Russel, who were part of last year’s victorious team at Pretoria Country Club during the 50th anniversary of the SA Inter-Provincial.

However, Werner Theart, Jean-Paul Strydom, LeRiche Ehlers and Justin Turner are back. Strand golfers Dylan Raubenheimer and Delin Erasmus are able replacements, while MG Keyser from Bellville and Westlake’s Lean Boezaart complete a formidable squad.

Henk Smith, doing his fourth tour of duty as team manager, warned that the side should not be underestimated.

“Aaron took up a position with TaylorMade Adidas and is working in the United States and Robbie was unavailable due to work commitments,” said Smith. “The new members of the team may be young, but they all have some measure of experience.”

Boezaart represented Gauteng North at 2006 SA IPT, Raubenheimer and Erasmus both played for the Western Province team at the U-23 IPT this year and Keyser competed in the Challenge IPT.

“Of course we will miss Aaron and Robbie’s experience but this team is very motivated and determined. I believe that if we can get off to a solid start against Gauteng-North in our first round match, it will really push them into high gear.”

Smith expects the Gauteng North side to put up quite a fight in the opening match.

“They will be out to prove their worth after their promotion to the A Division last year and they are fielding the strongest possible team,” he said.

“Gauteng North have the country’s number one amateur, Brandon Stone, and other top ranking players like Coenie Bester, Hendre Cilliers, Zander Lombard, Pedrie Oosthuizen and Herman Minnie, who are all ranked within the top 20 on the current amateur rankings.

“I expect them to fight us on every point. It will be a stern test for our team, but if we can start well, it will set us up for the rest of the week. Then we just need to keep the momentum going.”

The 2010 champions Kwa-Zulu Natal will face Southern Cape in their opening match while Boland meets Central Gauteng, who will count on the country’s number two and three, Ruan du Smidt and Haydn Porteous, to put them on the winning track.

Meanwhile Free State and Northern Cape captain Josef Fourie said his squad is determined to reverse their fortune after relegation to the B-Section last year.

“We will definitely look to use our knowledge of the local conditions and the layout at Bloemfontein Golf Club to our advantage,” he said. “It’s important for us to start strong in our opener against Limpopo and Ekurhuleni. We have to make our intentions clear from the get go, because we don’t intend spending another 12 months in the B-Section. We have to make our first round matches count.”

In the other B Section opening matches, North West will meet Eastern Province and their neighbours Border, while Mpumalanga will have a bye in the first round.

The format for both sections will be morning foursomes and afternoon singles.

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