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April 2016

Franklin and Steven star for President's Team


Franklin Manchest (front) and Steven le Roux (back left) in Swaziland with the South African President's Team

South Africa's Presidents Team won the B-flight at the prestigious Africa Zone VI Golf Tournament with a commanding performance at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club in Swaziland this month. And two of the four team members have connections to the SAGDB.

Having adopted a new format at the 2015 edition in Uganda, participating countries were invited to field two teams in this year's competition," explained South African Golf Association Acting Second-Vice President Martin Saaiman.

"This gave us and the other countries the opportunity to send our strongest team to contest the A-Division and to give some of our emerging talent a taste of the international stage.

"We selected four members of the Golf RSA national squad including Anuerin Gounden from KwaZulu-Natal, Franklin Manchest from Southern Cape, Ekurhuleni's Sentanio Minnie and Steven le Roux from Free State and appointed Eastern Province Golf Union Director of Golf Greg de Doncker as the team manager."

Franklin is currently the SAGDB's top player and Steven graduated from the SAGDB's programme last year.

"The tournament kicked off with an 18-hole stroke play qualifier for seeding purposes," Saaiman explained. "I think the writing was on the wall when the National Team just managed to beat this team of juniors to top the A-Division seeding."

The Presidents team combined for a best out of three score of 214, finishing just four strokes behind the National Team.

They overpowered Lesotho in the first round of the match play knock-out to win 3-0, defeated Malawi in round two and beat the host country's second team to guarantee a two-for-two result for South Africa.

"Franklin and Sentanio were fantastic in the foursomes, especially in the match against Malawi, which they won 6&5," said De Doncker. "Aneurin was a great banker for the team in the singles, and although Steve struggled a little, his never-say-die attitude was really commendable.

"The new format presented us with a wonderful opportunity to give four of South Africa's rising stars the chance to compete on an international stage. These four players were not only really impressive on course, but they were wonderful ambassadors for South Africa. In fact, I believe that if they had gone head-to-head with our National Team, they might actually have beaten them."

De Doncker and Saaiman believe the inter-Africa events are vital to the development of golf in the continent.

"Amateurs thrive on competition and the best way to improve is through international competition, however, the cost of sending six or eight players to compete abroad is astronomical. The alternative is across-the-border championships.

"It not only benefits the up-and-coming South African amateurs, but greatly contributes to developing the standard of golf among our neighbouring countries. As the strongest golf nation in Africa, South Africa has an obligation and responsibility to assist our neighbours to improve the standard of golf and these events are tailor-made for that purpose."

Manchest from George revelled in the experience and echoed De Doncker' sentiments.

"You kind of get used to playing the same guys at all the national events, so it was really cool to go up against players you've never met, especially in a foreign country," he said.

"It really tests you when you play in unfamiliar conditions and the match play format didn't allow for many mistakes. You had to be on top of your game throughout. I'm really proud that we were able to make it two out of two for South Africa because most of the matches were quite tight.

"This was so much fun. I feel like we all gained so much from this tournament and we were almost disappointed when it was over."