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SA’s top golfers battle it out for championship honours

The crème de la crème of South African amateur golf will be in action in the 57th Premier South African Inter-Provincial Championship, sponsored by Tempest, at Bryanston Country Club from Monday through till Friday.

Central Gauteng and Western Province have monopolised the A-Section in the country’s largest national team championship. The host union won six times and Western Province have racked up seven victories since 2000.

However, the layout at Bryanston is a great leveller and the tournament favourites could come under fire over the next five days.

Defending champions Southern Cape mowed down log-leaders Gauteng North in a pressure-packed final round tussle at the Fish River Sun Resort last year to lift the title for the first time since the Garden Route side joined in the country’s premier team event in 2009.

Nicholas Mitchell, Henk Geldenhuys, Callum Boon and Hans-Jurie Human return for duty with the mainstay Ivan Williams, who took the Most Valuable Player honour last year. And the side is further boosted by stand-outs Heinrich Frylinck, Ben van Wyk and Martin Vorster, the reigning Nomads SA Boys U-15 champion and recent Italian International Under-16 Championship winner.

KwaZulu-Natal earned the coveted promotion with an unbeaten performance at the Fish River Sun last year. This year’s squad boasts national players Malcolm Mitchell, Matt Saulez and Clayton Mansfield – all ranked inside the current top 10 on the Open Amateur standings.

With IPT veteran Gavin Sole at the helm and the combined experience of Derek Scullard, Siyanda Mwandla, Greg McKay and Jason Broomhead in support, the 2009 champions could pose a real threat this year.

Gauteng North, keen to end a three-year title-drought, has brought a strong offensive with in-form youngsters Nicholas Frade, Dylan Kok, Dawid Opperman and Keegan Mclachlan, and experienced campaigners Richard Joubert, David Nortje, Peetie and Christopher van der Merwe.

Ekurhuleni, the runners-up last year, have 2017 English Men’s Stroke Play champion Kyle McClatchie and reigning English Boys U-14 champion Casey Jarvis. The team have Dimension Data Junior Open Under-15 Challenge winner Nash de Klerk and Yurav Premlall, fresh from a top-20 finish in his international debut at the Italian International Under-16 Championship.

They have the firing power from proven winners Angus Ellis-Cole, Aneurin Gounden and Vaughan van Deventer. They also have Jordan Burnand, who got the nod when the country’s top-ranked junior Jayden Schaper made the International Team for the Junior Presidents Cup.

‘This is arguably the youngest squad we’ve ever fielded at the SA IPT, but they are a talented bunch of fighters,’ said Ekurhuleni president Martin Saayman.

‘Yurav and Casey are 14 and Nash is only 13 years and eight months old. They are younger than Ernie Els when he represented Eastern Transvaal 33 years ago. Kyle is just 20. Aneurin and Vaughan are 19, Jordan is 17 and at 22, Angus is the old man on the team. But Kyle leads the Open Amateur rankings, while Yurav, Casey and Nash occupy the top three spots in the SAGA Under 15 Junior Rankings.

‘We place a huge premium on development at Ekurhuleni Golf Union and experience is the best way to help players evolve, mature and improve. All these players earned their places on the team and the right to compete against the best talent in South Africa.

‘Like all the other teams, we want to hoist the trophy on Friday, but we also want to come away from this championship knowing that our players have gained top class experience that will help them to the reach the next level.’

Team manager Gavin Homan said it’s exciting to take such a young team into the battle.

‘The good thing about the youngsters is that they don’t scare easily,’ said Homan. ‘They can barely wait to get started. And we have guys like Kyle, Angus and Anuerin to guide them. It may be a young side, but we have a lot of confidence in them.’

The B-Section battle for promotion could prove just as tough to predict.

Boland were smarting after their relegation last year, while Eastern Province and North West both lost out to KwaZulu-Natal at the Fish River Sun.

All three teams will be champing at the bit to win the coveted promotion, but will need a fast start in Monday’s opening matches, with Mpumalanga, Eastern Province, Free State and Limpopo also gunning for success.

FIRST ROUND DRAW – A-SECTION

Southern Cape vs KwaZulu-Natal
Ekurhuleni vs Central Gauteng
Gauteng North vs Western Province

FIRST ROUND DRAW – B-SECTION:
Boland vs Border vs North West
Mpumalanga vs Eastern Province vs Free State
Bye – Limpopo

Picture of the Southern Cape side (back, left to right) Ivan Williams, Hans-Jurie Human, Heinrick Frylinck and Caylum Boon
and (front) Ben van Wyk, Martin Vorster, Henk Geldenhuys, Billy Valentyn (manager) and Nicholas Mitchell courtesy of Ernest Blignault


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