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In-form Williams leads SA Seniors against India

Williams

South Africa’s top senior amateur, Steve Williams, is primed to lead the GolfRSA Senior Squad in the Fellowship Cup against India, buoyed by a joint runner-up finish in the British Senior Amateur Championship on the weekend.

The four-man senior team will battle the 16-man Indian Golf Union squad alongside a mid-amateur, open amateur and junior team in the three-day Test, which tees off at Leopard Creek on Wednesday.

The reigning SA Senior Amateur champion will be flanked by Boland duo Francois le Roux and Andre van Dyk, and fellow Gauteng golfer Greg Gleeson.

Le Roux is a three-time winner this year, while Van Dyk won the Senior Players Championship in February, and Gleeson also enjoyed two trips to the winner’s circle this season.

However Williams is undoubtedly the in-form player, having chased Brian Hughes from England all the way to the finish line in his debut in the prestigious senior amateur event at the Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire on Friday.

The 55-year-old from Modderfontein put together rounds of 71, 72 and 73 to finish two shots shy of Hughes on six-over 216 with Americans Doug Hanzel and Gene Elliot.

‘I’m extremely grateful to the South African Golf Association for sending me to England to compete in such a world class championship,’ said Williams. ‘I didn’t expect the weather to be so severe, but it was a phenomenal experience.’

The first round was suspended due to flooding and then completed on Thursday morning. The scenario repeated itself when intermittent rain forced the organisers to suspend the second round as well.

‘I played the first 14 holes in pouring rain,’ Williams said. ‘The green staff were all over the place with squeegees to try and keep the greens from getting waterlogged. With all the interruptions it was tough to get some momentum going. The six hours of sitting around affected my swing tempo, but I putted extremely well.

‘The competition was extremely fierce and the quality of golf, especially from the large group of Americans, was superb. In fact, only three players in the top 12 were not Yanks, so it really was an amazing opportunity to test myself on a truly international stage. I was just thankful that we finished as scheduled, so I could get back in time for the Fellowship Cup.’

The SA Senior side will go into battle against David D’souza, Rishi Narain, Anil Kumar Jule and Vijay Kumar Bhadana.

‘We enjoyed meeting our counterparts from India on Monday night, and we had a very amicable practice round with a lot of jokes and laughter, but the gloves will come off in the first round,’ said Williams.

‘It was my first time playing Leopard Creek and they played all of us off the back tips in the practice round. This course is a real beast. I sincerely hope the organisers will be a little kinder to us golden oldies during the Test.

‘It’s a fantastic test of golf, with a lot of challenges and you certainly have to be on your toes around this layout. There is trouble on almost every hole, but if you are striking the ball straight, you have a chance to score.’

Gauteng North’s Albert Venter, who won the African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek in 2016, will pair up with KwaZulu-Natal pair Malcolm Mitchell and Matt Saulez, as well as Luca Filippi from Western Province in the Open Amateur team. The quartet will face Indian No 1 Khsitij Naveed Kaul, Yashas Chandra, who competed in this year’s Africa Amateur, Sunit Chowrasia and Pukhraj Singh Gill.

Ryan Dreyer, Almero Theron, Gerlou Roux and Kevin Sharp take on Gagan Verma, Simarjeet Singh, Harjinder Singh Kang and Sanjay Kumar Lakra in the mid-amateur division, while the juniors Jayden Schaper, Christo Lamprecht, Wilco Nienaber and Luke Mayo will face off against Kartik Sharma, Harshjeet Singh Sethie, Raghav Chugh and Saarthak Chhibber from India.

The format for the three-day Test is betterball in round one, foursomes in round two and singles in Friday’s final round.

Picture of the GolfRSA senior team (left to right: Francois le Roux, Williams, Greg Gleeson and Andre van Dyk), courtesy of GolfRSA


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