March 2012

Scots clinch a narrow victory at 2012 Triangular

The three teams that competed at the annual Triangular international event between the SAGDB, a Scottish mens team and a team of top SA juniors. Credit: Neil Harvey

They may have lost to the Scots and the Junior Proteas, but the SAGDB squad still had plenty of reason to celebrate after the third annual one-day Triangular at Randpark Golf Club.

The Scottish Golf Union's National Squad defended their title with 12½ points to the 12 that the Protea side posted and finished four points clear of the SAGDB team.

But, although the tournament had to be called off prematurely due to inclement weather and they finished at the bottom for a third year running, the seven SAGDB amateurs were exchanging high fives, pats on the back and shouting words of encouragement to each other.

The reason for their celebration was simple: "You have to look beyond the final scores at our overall performance to understand why we are in such great spirits," said skipper Cedric Rooi.

"Given our past results at the Triangular, we came into this tournament the rank underdogs. But for the fact that play was called off due to the weather, things could have ended differently."

"The Scots did defend their title, but they only beat our South African Juniors by a half point. We finished just four points behind the winners. That is an awesome result for us."

Rooi is certainly not wrong in his estimation of just how far the SAGDB side has come in three years.

"In our first Triangular, we lost by more than 20 points to the SAGA Juniors," he explained.

"Last year our losing margin to the Scots was 20 points. To finish just four off the pace really shows just how much this squad has grown in experience. This has been our best tournament ever and they better watch out next year."

Rooi, who has been the mainstay for the SAGDB squad the last two years, said he was especially delighted to see how Central Gauteng rookies Musi Nethunzwi and Sipho Bujela stepped up to the challenge.

"They beat Dylan (Raubenheimer) and Ian (Snyman) 5 & 4 in the foursomes against the SA Juniors and scored two more points for the team in the singles when Musi won 2-up against Snyman and Sipho 1-up against Raubenheimer," he said.

"Musi also halved his match against Scott Crichton from Scotland and Sipho forced a 3-up result against Fraser McKenna 3-up."

"They really came through, scoring four and a half points for the team. That shows the kind of dedication, fighting spirit and commitment this team needs."

Boland amateur Jacquin Hess also stepped up with a halve against the Protea's Jason Froneman, while Fezekile Kana from Port Elizabeth and KwaZulu-Natal's Phiwakahle Mkhoma added another point with halves against Tristan Strydom and Tristan Lawrence respectively.

"Everyone on the team contributed in one way or another," said Rooi, who halved his match against Scotland's Daniel Kay. "Nkoma picked up another half point against James White and little Aslam Mallick from Western Province, our youngest player, delivered our final half point against Paul Shields."

"The team batted from one to seven and that's how it should be at tournaments of this nature. I am incredibly proud of our performance. Others may think we've lost again, but I think we are finally on a winning path."

SAGDB chief executive Ken Viljoen said that the opportunity for the SAGDB youngsters to gain experience outweighed the result.

"The annual Triangular presents an incredible learning curve for the squad," he said. "There are limited opportunities for South African amateurs to gain international experience, unless they are ranked in the top 10 to 20 in the country."

"Through our chairman, Johann Rupert, the Scottish Golf Union and Aberdeen Asset Management, the Scottish team has been coming here for three years and the South African amateurs have greatly benefited from the experience of playing against them."

"This tournament provides a wonderful platform for our members to showcase their talent and gain invaluable experience. We hope that this will inspire other countries to follow suit to visit South Africa on a more frequent basis. We relish the chance to show people in this country and abroad that our members are willing and eager to compete against the best."

The SAGA Junior side comprised Dylan Raubenheimer and Ian Snyman, both from Western Province, Jason Froneman, James du Preez and Tristen Strydom from Gauteng North and Mpumalanga's Zander Gous and Thriston Lawrence.

Scott Crichton, Connor O'Neil, Brian Soutar, Fraser McKenna and Daniel Kay represented the Scottish challenge, as well as Paul Shields and James White, who have both been included in the preliminary 12-player Great Britain and Ireland squad to play this year's St Andrews Trophy Match.