Déjà vu in Port Shepstone Strokeplay Club Champs – photo gallery

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Quintin van Jaarsveld

It was a case of déjà vu in the men’s and ladies strokeplay club championships at Port Shepstone Country Club at the weekend.

The 72-hole showcase saw both Graham Fabricius and Kim Strauss retain their titles after two days of enthralling golf.

Fabricius got off to a shaky start by his high standards and recorded a two-over 74 on the opening day. Still, it was enough to make him the overnight leader, but with just a single shot lead, there was a sense that anything could happen at the start of Day Two.

The former KwaZulu-Natal Country Districts and two-time Southern KwaZulu-Natal Closed champion asserted himself on Sunday, however, and a solid one-under 71 saw him defend his crown comfortably in the end on 145 gross, eight ahead of Greg Hornby and Ganes Munsami.

“It feels great to go back-to-back. I’ve put in so much time to get my game in top form. It’s nice to defend the title and be known as Sheppie’s club champ for the second year in a row,” he told eHowzit.

Fabricius said the two strokeplay club titles were equally special but added the adage ‘it’s harder to stay champion than become champion’ rings true.

“It’s hard to compare because last year I was trying to win it for the first time and this year I had to defend it, but both felt equally special.

“This year was a bit tougher because I only had the one-shot lead going into today as to last year when I led by eight or something, so my nerves were through the roof because everyone expected me to win.

“Anything can happen and I can have a bad day, but I kept focused on what I needed to do and just played my game, knowing I was in great form as I consistently shot four-five under par leading up to this weekend.”

Fabricius hit some great iron shots on Day One, especially on 17 where he hit a six iron from 160m into the wind to about 10ft from the hole and drained the putt.

He flexed his muscles on the par five 13th on Day Two, where he smashed his driver and then flushed his five wood onto the green from 229m out.

“That basically sealed it for me…knowing I’ll make at least birdie and be like five or six ahead of my nearest competitor. The eagle putt agonisingly lipped out, but playing that hole so well gave me the confidence to push through the tougher closing holes.”

After missing Q School due to a wrist injury, Fabricius will spend the remainder of the year perfecting his game with a singular goal in mind.

“I’ll be traveling up and down from Johannesburg to Cape Town to play in as many amateur events as I can, including some IGT Pro Challenge tournaments, to get my game ready for Q School next year to try and get my Sunshine Tour card after disappointingly not going this year.”

Hornby won the A division on 153, James Coull Jr clinched the B division on 166, Sashen Govender grabbed the C division title on 187 and Dirk Brand bagged the veterans division silverware on 80 points.

Also acknowledged at prize-giving were Lenox Bell Mug of Mugs winner Ken Morris, President’s Shield winners Dr Ayoob Bux and Munsami, Victory Cup winner Howard Crouch, Hornby (Best Senior Golfer) and Coull Jr (Best Junior Golfer).

Ladies strokeplay club champion Kim Strauss (right) with ladies golf captain Cecelia Verster.

Meanwhile, Strauss solidified her status as the queen of the club with a runaway win on 162. She kept the ball in play throughout, which allowed her to register back-to-back rounds of 81.

“I’m thrilled with the win. The ladies section is very competitive and to come out as club champ is an honour. Winning for a second year in a row is special and shows the hard work is paying off,” she said.

With a maiden triumph back in 2015, the former hockey star is now a three-time strokeplay club champion.

“I didn’t think I’d ever win club champs when I first started playing golf, but with the support and encouragement of the club and the ladies section, one can only want to perform well and feel proud to be a part of a great club.

“Club champs is such a special event on the calendar…it‘s two days where the ladies get together and battle the golf course. We celebrate those who come out on top and applaud those who were brave enough to go through the battle. Congratulations to all the winners and well done to each and every lady who took part.”

Talented youngster Simoné Ferreira added the silver division silverware to her collection – which includes two Junior Africa Challenge titles – on 181, Beryl Olden won the bronze title on 197 and Vicky Nott clinched the copper title on 64 points. Also acknowledged at prize-giving was matchplay club champion Yzelle Greyling.

Photos by Sandy Danckwerts

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