Quintin van Jaarsveld
History was made and repeated itself in the men’s and ladies strokeplay club championships at Port Shepstone Country Club at the weekend.
The 72-hole showcase produced two days of top golf and saw the crowing of a new men’s champion in Graham Fabricius, while Kim Strauss secured her second strokeplay club title.
Fabricius was in a class of his own and clinched his maiden strokeplay club title by a whopping 14 shots after carding rounds of 70 and 74.
The win was a long time coming for the scratch golfer, whose undeniable talent and unrivalled dedication has made him one of the rising stars of South Coast golf.
He’s claimed several significant victories in recent years, including the KwaZulu-Natal Country Districts Interzone Championships title, back-to-back Southern KwaZulu-Natal Closed titles and the matchplay club crown last year, but the honour of being Sheppie strokeplay champion continued to elude him.
The fourth time turned out to be the charm and his dominant display erased the disappointment of last year’s competition, in which he was unable to live up to his favourite tag.
“It’s very relieving and satisfying as I had so much pressure and weight on my shoulders with basically everyone supporting me and jokingly saying I better win or else,” he laughed.
He’s been on fire this year, scoring a career-best eight-under-par 64 at his home club and earning a place in the KwaZulu-Natal Country Districts team, however, he suffered a rib injury two weeks ago that halted his momentum and threatened to derail his title hopes.
“I couldn’t swing properly and played the worst golf I’ve played in the last two years, shooting scores in the high 70s and even a couple of 80s, which is dreadful for me because I’m usually barely satisfied when I play a round of 70, so I was low on confidence heading into the weekend.”
Fortunately for Fabricius, he recovered in time and got the monkey off his back in style. He put on a putting masterclass – sinking nine birdies in all, including a remarkable 30-footer. He didn’t miss a single putt in the 10-foot range, and added another highlight by holing a bunker shot.
He had two slip-ups, a double bogey on the par-five seventh on Saturday, which he followed up with a hat-trick of birdies, and a dreaded triple bogey on the par-five ninth on Sunday, from which he bounce back with birdies on 11 and 12.
The Shelly Beach-based golfer added he’s thrilled to join the elite group of double club champions.
“It feels great to have both titles to my name, knowing that I outscored everyone in both formats, and I‘m looking forward to playing Champion of Champions again [where he finished last year.]”
Jarrod van Wyk won the A division on 158, Gavin van Wyk succeeded Ian Stewart as B division winner on 159, Dr Ayoob Bux completed a C division hat-trick on 182 and Jacky van Heerden succeeded Ken Marshall as veterans division winner on 78 points.
Also acknowledged at prize-giving were Lenox Bell Mug of Mugs winner Ewald Ziervogel, President’s Shield winners Dr Bux and Ganes Munsami, and Adriaan Schonken, who was named Best Junior Golfer.
Meanwhile, 2015 ladies strokeplay club champion Strauss scooped her second title on 159 following rounds of 77 and 82.
“I feel great and very humbled. The ladies section is a fabulous and competitive section and there are wonderful golfers,” said the former hockey ace.
“This win means a lot and is because of hard work on my short game, endless support from the ladies section and the encouragement from everyone to perform well.”
Strauss hit the fairways and greens in regulation and wrapped up the silverware when she birdied the par-three eighth and eagled the par-five ninth on Sunday.
“That was two important holes to boost the confidence,” she said. “I’m thrilled that I was able to put in good scores and keep the good form I have going. I’m happy with my ball striking and course management and had a fantastic two days of golf.
“The ladies in the silver division gave me a run for my money and I had to play at my utmost best. Congratulations to all the players who took part. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of the club and everyone makes it special.”
2014 champion Yzelle Greyling won the silver division for the second successive year on 169, Jenny Hulley bagged the bronze title on 184 and Barbara Rousseau clinched the copper spoils on 71 points.
Photos by Sandy Danckwerts