It took a bit more effort than they bargained for, but defending champions Southern Cape, Western Province and host union Central Gauteng hit the front in the first round of the 57th South African Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, on Monday.
Southern Cape was first out of the blocks at Bryanston Country Club.
The 2016 champions had a real battle on their hands in the singles after leading KwaZulu-Natal 2.5 – 1.5 in the foursomes, but last year’s most valuable player, Ivan Williams, new caps Ben van Wyk and Martin Vorster and Caylum Boon made sure the side retained their one point edge to win 6.5 – 5.5.
Gavin Sole from Southbroom is the captain of the KwaZulu-Natal side, which include Malcolm Mitchell, Matt Saulez, Jason Broomhead, Clayton Mansfield, Siyanda Mwandla, Derek Scullard and Gregory Mckay. Ivan Curlewis from Margate is the manager of the team.
Southern Cape next face Western Province, who edged out Gauteng North by the same margin.
The former champions dominated the foursomes to lead 3 – 1, but the Daisies rallied with three victories in the singles. However, stalwarts Cameron Johnston and Gerlou Roux and Carlo O’Reilly, playing at number one, squared their games to guarantee a positive result.
Central Gauteng manager Jaco du Plessis said their 7.5 – 4.5 victory against Ekurhuleni was a much tighter battle than the scores suggests.
“Ekurhuleni might have a young team, but they can’t be underestimated,” said Du Plessis. “They were fearless and they came out guns blazing. There are so many extremely talented players in that team. We had a 3 – 1 lead in the foursomes after winning two games and halving the others and they fought hard in the singles.
“I think now that they are over the first round nerves, the confidence will come. They could pose a real threat, so we are glad to have that game behind us. A lot of games went down the wire, but the 18th green was especially kind to us.”
Andrew Carlsson, Bryce Leach, Ryan Dreyer and skipper Darin de Smidt delivered the winning blows that put Central on the front foot.
“I’m really pleased with the way our guys fought to land us the first win of the week,” Du Plessis said. “Having the first win in the bag is a nice boost for the guys. We face Gauteng North on Tuesday, and that’s always a ding-dong battle.”
In the promotion battle, North West hit the top spot in the B-Section log with Free State a close second.
North West beat Boland 7 – 5 and gave Border a 10.5 – 1.5 hiding, while Boland defeated Border 7.5 – 4.5 in the three-way contest. Eastern Province beat Mpumalanga with a convincing 8.5 – 3.5 performance, but went down 4 – 8 to Free State, who also whipped Mpumalanga 7.5 – 4.5.
Limpopo had a first round bye and will play Mpumalanga and Boland on Tuesday. The other second round battle will be between Border and Eastern Province, while North West and Free State have a bye.