HOME TOWN WIN FOR CENTRAL
Central Gauteng regain their hands on the Senior IPT title at the Wanderers.
Central Gauteng have only lost two out of 28 matches in the Senior IPT since it became a purely matchplay tournament in 2013, but overall victory at the Wanderers in April was only the second time they had claimed the new IPT title.
Playing at home with a strong team, Central were keen to stop Western Province’s bid for a hat-trick of titles, and they came through narrowly on the final day to regain the title they last won at Euphoria in 2013.
The title race has annually been a close duel between evenly matched provinces. Central got the better of WP in 2013 with a 100 percent record, but the tables were turned at Erinvale in 2014 when WP were unbeaten. Last year at Ebotse, Central edged WP in their final-day clash, but lost the title to their rivals by half-a-point on a games countout.
The two teams were unbeaten through the first three days at the Wanderers, although WP had a 2-point games advantage. It was another tense clash. The foursomes were halved 2-2, and WP got three points from the first five singles to be decided. It was all down to the top three, and here the two new stars in the Central team, SA Senior Open champion Steve Williams and Stephen Johnston, delivered. Williams edged Francois le Roux one up, and Johnston beat Brian Mampies 2/1. Veteran Jock Wellington, 65, halved with WP’s Craig Poulton to give Central a 6½-5½ victory.
However, even had WP managed a 6-6 half, they would still have lost the title, as at the same time they were surprisingly being thrashed 9-3 by KwaZuluNatal, the other team in the triangular battle that day. Natal won seven of the eight singles matches in what was the only highlight of a disappointing week for them.
Gauteng North finished third in the A division, but were out of contention by day two, having lost to both Central (8-4) and WP. Their No 1, Mellette Hendrikse, was the A division MVP, his only singles loss being against Steve Williams.
Central’s other team members were older campaigners Schalk Naude, Richard Bruyns and Gavin van Aswegen, all three of whom were in the winning 2013 team, plus new boys Johan Swart and Greg Gleeson. Naude’s exceptional run in the Senior IPT continued, having earned 34½ points out of 42 the last three years.
Central had three exceptional foursomes pairings – Wellington and Naude won six of their seven games, and it was five wins for Johnston/Williams, and Bruyns/Van Aswegen. Johnston was unbeaten in the singles, winning six and halving one; Williams and Bruyns each had six wins, and Van Aswegen five.
Super Senior Herman September, Brian Mampies and Andrew Cleophas were WP’s best players. – Stuart McLean
The triumphant Central Gauteng team with manager Jaco du Plessis (far right).