Ekurhu­leni win the Mid-Am­a­teur In­ter­provin­cial for the sec­ond time after a dra­matic week in Mid­del­burg.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Amateur Scene -

IN­TER­PROVIN­CIAL GOLF can be ex­cit­ing when the bal­ance of power is spread evenly among the teams, and Mid­del­burg Golf Club in Mpumalanga yielded the most ex­cit­ing Mid-Am­a­teur IPT since the tour­na­ment be­gan in 2006.

All six A sec­tion teams won matches on the first two days, and one point sep­a­rated them on the log after the third day.

There had to be a win­ner, and Ekurhu­leni, cham­pi­ons in 2010 at Worces­ter (the first A sec­tion trophy in the union’s his­tory), re­cov­ered from an early de­feat against North West to take the John Pick­er­ing Trophy from 2012 cham­pi­ons Cen­tral Gaut­eng.

Four dif­fer­ent prov­inces have won the A sec­tion in nine years of Mid-Am­a­teur IPTs – Cen­tral Gaut­eng 3, Western Prov­ince 2, KZN 2 and Ekurhu­leni 2 – and like­wise five prov­inces have won the B sec­tion, first played in 2008.

Ekurhu­leni be­gan the week with a 7-5 vic­tory over Cen­tral, but came un­stuck against North West on day two, los­ing all four four­somes and the match 8½-3½. On the same day, though, de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons WP lost to Cen­tral 6½-5½ and A sec­tion new­com­ers East­ern Prov­ince beat KZN 7-5.

On day three Ekurhu­leni saw off KZN 7½-4½, Cen­tral

edged EP 6½-5½ and WP beat North West by the same mar­gin to set up a thrilling fi­nal two days. Ekurhu­leni’s in­ten­sity was shown on day four when they led WP 3-1 at lunch and then won 6½ sin­gles points to thrash the ti­tle hold­ers 9½-2½.

Ekurhu­leni held a 2½game ad­van­tage over Cen­tral at the top of the log head­ing into the fi­nal day, but got a fright when EP, des­per­ate to re­main in the A sec­tion, beat them 3-1 in the four­somes. “I had a stern chat with the team,” said man­ager (and union pres­i­dent) Martin Saaiman. “But they are all ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers and we had per­formed re­ally well in the sin­gles ex­cept for the North West loss.”

The East Ran­ders an­swered their man­ager’s call and promptly won the first five sin­gles. Jan Del­port de­liv­ered the win­ning point at No 1, beat­ing Mzuyanda Zin­gela 5/4 for a 7-5 vic­tory.

Hugo Del­port, Rowan du Preez and Craig Bell were in the win­ning 2010 team, and Del­port was out­stand­ing at Mid­del­burg, with 8½ out of 10 points to scoop A sec­tion MVP hon­ours, in­clud­ing a full house of five sin­gles wins. Jaco Rall earned 8 points, Du Preez 7, Evan McKen­zie 5, Adolf van der Merwe and Brian Peter­son 4½, Del­port 4 and Bell 1½.

“Mid-Am­a­teur team golf is so com­pet­i­tive and close that it was un­likely one team would win all five matches,” said Saaiman. “We didn’t panic after our loss on day two, and the win against WP on day four re­ally set it all up for us.”

Gaut­eng North won pro­mo­tion with an un­beaten B sec­tion per­for­mance in Mid­del­burg. The Blue Bulls opened with wins over Free State (9-3) and Boland (8-4) on day one, be­fore a tense half against South­ern Cape on day two. After a bye on day three, fur­ther wins came against Bor­der (8½-3½) and Lim­popo (9-3) to set up a ti­tle-de­cid­ing clash on the fi­nal day against hosts Mpumalanga, who had won five out of five.

Gaut­eng North showed more com­po­sure when it mat­tered most, tak­ing a 2½-1½ four­somes lead, and then win­ning four sin­gles to squeak home 6½-5½. Pi­eter Cooper gave an in­spired per­for­mance, earn­ing the win­ning point (1up over Mpumalanga’s Jaco Bui­tendag) to win six out of six sin­gles and share MVP hon­ours with Boland’s Ash­ley Atkin­son with 9½ out of 12 points.

Gus­tav Ver­ster (5½ sin­gles) and Louis Jonck earned 8½ points for the Bulls, Kelso Han­nay 8, Martin Kraft and Jauqo Ja­cobs 7, Phillip Croukamp 6½ and Ben­nie van Log­geren­berg 5½.

The win­ning Ekurhu­leni team. Back, from left: Adolf van der Merwe, Craig Bell, Brian Peter­son, Evan McKen­zie, Jan Del­port, Rowan du Preez

and Jaco Rall. Front: Hugo Del­port and Martin Saaiman ( man­ager).

The win­ning Gaut­eng North team with man­ager Ed­die Roux ( third from left).

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