IT DOESN’T GET CLOSER THAN THIS
WP sneak home after North West dent Central’s hopes
Honours went Western Province’s way in the Indwe Senior Interprovincial, but only after one of the closest possible finishes at Ebotse Links. The defending champions held off Central Gauteng by half-a-point in a countout after the two rivals had ended the week on the same number of points.
Central narrowly beat WP in their final-day head-tohead showdown, but it was a shock loss to North West Province the previous day that was to effectively cost them the A division title.
Province and Central have been evenly matched in terms of strength since the Senior IPT switched to a straight matchplay format in 2013. Central won that first year in Limpopo with a clean sheet of 7 wins, finishing three points ahead of Province. WP swept the boards at home in 2014, by two points from Central. The clash between them at Ebotse was again expected to determine the title this year, only for lowly North West to claim an almighty upset and muddy the situation. They not only beat Central, but did so conclusively, taking the foursomes 4-0 and singles 5-3. It was only Central’s second defeat in 21 matches, so for North West it was a win for the history books.
Central, even after such a damagingly wide margin of defeat, were still in a good position to reclaim the title the next day, thanks to big wins earlier in the week. They were just one game point behind WP (38-37), with a triangular match on the line between Province, Central and KwaZulu-Natal. It was anyone’s contest to win. Even KZN were in with an outside chance of becoming champions, having lost just the once in the previous three days.
However, Central had a flaw in their team makeup that was to prove their eventual undoing. Despite all the practice outings beforehand, their weakness at Ebotse was in the foursomes, and on the final day they found themselves 3-1 down to WP in this format, and 2-2 with KZN. It was symptomatic of Central’s week. Of the 28 foursomes points available, Central scored 12½, and 10 of those came from two pairings – Jock Wellington and Schalk Naude, Richard Bruyns and Gavin van Aswegen. The other two contributed just 2½ points.
In contrast, Province’s four steady pairings earned 19½ points, and in the final analysis that was what determined the outcome in their favour.
Central did fight back as they always do in the singles the final afternoon,
trouncing both WP and KZN 5½-2½, but with WP beating KZN 8-4, Central were half-a-point shy of what they needed. They will have felt gutted by how close they came. Six of the singles matches between WP and Central went to the final hole.
Province’s key players at Ebotse were again Francois le Roux, captain Tony Bailey, Brian Mampies and Andrew Cleophas, the backbone of the team, as they had been the previous year. Mampies and Cleophas won six of their seven foursomes, Le Roux and Bailey had five wins and a half, and the four earned a total of 19½ singles points.
“Team spirit certainly pulled us through on a tough course on which we didn’t have much time to prepare before the tournament,” said Bailey. “My philosophy as captain has been to build a good foursomes base, and then place strong, reliable players first out in the singles to gain early points. It worked for us.”
Province showed two changes from their 2014 team, and rookie senior Craig Poulton was thrust into the No 1 singles position, which meant the more experienced players could be slotted into the middle of the order. The other team members were Peter van Coller, Dirk van der Merwe and Japie Koopman.
Bruyns, Naude, Van Aswegen and Wellington were the star allround performers for Central, all being among the top 10 in the individual MVP standings. Naude has earned 24 points out of 28 for his team the last two years, an effort only equalled by WP’s Le Roux. And the two of them halved their singles clash on the final day, a key result in the final reckoning.
Curiously, Central’s Alan Fraser won all seven of his singles matches at No 5 in the order, yet lost six foursomes matches with partner Lawrence Franklin.
Wellington has had 17 wins and three halves out of 21 singles matches at the Senior IPT in its current format. Playing at No 2 the 64-yearold suffered his first defeat in three years when beaten 4/3 by Gauteng North’s William Skinner, who shared MVP honours for the week with KZN’s Morgan Phillips. Skinner’s only singles defeat was on the final day against Ekurhuleni’s Kevin Monk.
Phillips was in the hot No 1 seat for KZN, and what
a week he had in the singles, beating Brian Naidoo, Ramon Rahme, Mellette Hendrikse, Lionel Davids, Lawrence Franklin and Poulton. It was the second year in a row he had beaten No-1 ranked senior Hendrikse, who had a poor week for Gauteng North in the singles. Phillips halved with North West’s Roy van Blerk, who had a useful week for his team.
North West only won two matches all week, but their eight players – led with 12 wins from Henry Odell and Solly Rautenbach – did fantastically well in the singles, where they earned 35½ points, second only to Central’s 38½ points.
Davids had an excellent week for Southern Cape, last year’s B division champions. He lost 2/1 to Phillips, but had six singles wins at No 1 over Franklin, Rahme, Poulton, Brian Naidoo, Hendrikse and Van Blerk.
“The quality of golf among all the A division teams has really improved, and there are fewer easy matches than there were two years ago,” said Bailey. “There were several close matches, and Province were tested by both North West and Ekurhuleni. We won with 51½ points, compared to scoring 62 and 58 the last two years.”
Gauteng North, who went into the tournament with as good a chance of winning the title as any team, lost to WP and Central on the first two days, and in those two key games they earned just one foursomes point out of eight. They bounced back to end KZN’s winning run 7-5 on day three, but then were firmly trounced by hosts Ekurhuleni on the final day.
The two victorious Western Province teams with their