SA primed for Leopard Trophy action

2015 Leopard TrophyMALELANE (17 February 2015) – Scotland’s Bradley Neil will line up with the pros in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt this week, but the reigning Amateur champion will keep a close eye on the action at Leopard Creek Golf Estate, where eight of his Scottish Golf Union National Squad team members will be bidding for repeat success against South Africa in the sixth Leopard Trophy.

Scotland clinched their second victory in the annual two-day Test with a 14-10 result last year, and the team will be gunning for back-to-back titles at the magnificent Gary Player-designed layout on Wednesday.

Six members of the 2014 team have returned for duty, including Ewen Ferguson, who captured the Scottish Boys Amateur and Boys Stroke Play Championship titles last year.

The 18-year-old Glaswegian leads the challenge alongside Jamie Savage, Scott Gibson, Connor Syme, Daniel Young and Ben Kinsley, while the new caps include Greig Marchbank and Craig Ross, who triumphed in the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Glenfarcas Open last year.

On the flipside, South Africa is fielding six Leopard Trophy debutants, but the country’s number one ranked amateur, Tristen Strydom, declared the local heroes ready to spoil the Scottish party.

“We are not going to get hung up on ages or records this week,” said 17-year-old Ekurhuleni golfer.

“The format for the next two days is Foursomes in the morning and afternoon Singles. Any golfer that has played Inter-Provincials or Match Play Championships can tell you that match play is played on grass, not paper;

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or with how much experience you arrive; in match play, it comes down to nerves, fighting spirit, determination and whether you can grind long and hard enough to wear your opponent down.”

Strydom makes his debut in the Leopard Trophy alongside fellow Ekurhuleni golfers Paul Boshoff and Stefan Cronje and Gauteng North trio Jason Smith, Hendrikus Stoop and Teaghan Gauche, while past participants Matthew Spacey and Gerlou Roux bring some the experience to the team.

Spacey, who competed in 2014, arrived at Leopard Creek on the back of a top five finish in the Free State Vodacom Open, where Smith tied for sixth and Gauche and Cronje both achieved top 20 results.

Roux, a member of the victorious 2013 team, lifted the Ekurhuleni Mid-Amateur Open title on Sunday.

“There is a lot a lot of pride on the line for both teams,” Strydom said. “It’s going to be a tight battle, but I believe the South African team has the heart to win this and to bring the Leopard Trophy back to home soil.”

PHOTO: The South African team competing in the 2015 Leopard Trophy; credit Roger Sedres / ImageSA.
Left to right – Paul Boshoff, Stefan Cronje, Teaghan Gauche, Jason Smith, Matthew Spacey, Llewellyn von Leeuwen (coach), Gerlou Roux, Hendrikus Stoop and Tristen Strydom.