Central Gauteng wins, but Presidents Team steals the show at SA Challenge IPT
SAGDB graduate Cedric Rooi captained the President's Team at the recent SA Challenge IPT
Central Gauteng claimed a crucial one point final round victory over a SA Junior Golf side to come up trumps in this year's SA Challenge Inter-Provincial, but it was the eight development players from the Presidents Team who stole the show at Cullinan Golf Club during May.
While the bullet-proof Central Gauteng team never conceded a match on their way to a 10 point victory, the Presidents Team saved their best for last.
Captain Cedric Rooi explained that the SA Challenge IPT was launched as a South African Golf Association initiative to groom younger players for the national inter-provincial.
"The Presidents Team comprises players from various golf development programmes but as a team, we had never won a match since the inception of the tournament," said the former SAGDB player from the Riverside Golf Club in Worcester. "I've played for the Presidents Team for the last four years and we've come close and even halved matches, but we always came short against Central Gauteng, Gauteng North, Western Province and, in the last two years, the SA Juniors and SA Universities sides."
"This year was the last chance saloon for me, because at 24 I'll be too old to play next year. I was really keen for us to do well this year. Our first three losses were very close, but after the SA Universities team gave us a 7½ - 4½ beating in the fourth round, we were pretty downcast."
"Then the SAGA's Neil Homann walked over and gave us a pep talk. And he told the boys to win one for me. And that's exactly what we did. We won our final match, but we didn't just do it, we beat Western Province 8½ - 3½. That's a huge margin and it shows exactly what the players are capable of. I am so proud of all of them."
And their overall performance in this year's tournament should send a message to the other five competing teams.
The team halved the first round against the SA Junior side, lost the second round to Gauteng North by just two points. The third round match against Central Gauteng was another closely fought battle, with Central winning by just a one point: 6½ to 5½.
"I believe that next year's Presidents Team will be a force to be reckoned with," said Rooi. "The only match in which we really got beaten was that 7½ - 4½ loss against the Universities side. Beating Province took the sting out of that loss and showed us what we can do when we really focus."
While the skipper was full of praise for all the players, he said that Mpho Mafishe, debutant Sipho Bujele and his long-time playing partner and another SAGDB graduate, Jacquin Hess, deserved a special mention.
"All three did pretty well in the foursomes, but they excelled in the singles," said Rooi, who won three of his own singles and combined with Hess for three foursomes victories.
"Jacquin won three singles and halved another, Mpho won all five his singles and Sipho won four singles. Mpho and Jacquin also took ninth and 10th in the Most Valuable Player Rankings."
"(Jacobs) and AB (Price), playing for the second time, Andile (Adam), who also made his debut in the team, Leorin (Pillay) and Wade Jacobs gave 100 percent. The team gelled well, but I think that final round performance against Province says a lot about the depth of talent on the team."
"It should send a warning to all the teams about next year's tournament."