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SA stretch Cup lead over India at Leopard Creek

India

South Africa will take an imposing lead into the final round of the Fellowship Cup, after another commanding performance against India at Leopard Creek on Thursday.

The local heroes collected 6.5 points from the second-round foursomes to stretch their advantage to 11 points, but Indian mid-amateur Simarjeet Singh, and South African new caps Malcolm Mitchell and Andre van Dyk believe the three-day Test is far from over.

Singh and HS Kang lost 2-down in the first round betterball, but the Indian pair came up trumps in the foursomes against Gerlou Roux and Almero Theron to win 2 & 1.

‘It was a great turnaround, but both matches were close and the lead was never more than 1-up over both rounds,’ Singh said. ‘HS and I won today and one senior team won in the first round. Our other mid-amateur team – Gagan Verma and Sanjay Lakra – halved against Ryan Dreyer and Kevin Sharp. We believe these performances will further inspire our young players for the singles. After the first round, some of the youngsters already stepped it up and we had a narrow 1-up loss in the juniors and a 2-up loss in the open amateur division.

‘We knew it would be tough to beat South Africa at home, but we came here to learn and I am certain that all the players, especially the younger competitors, are gaining tremendous experience on this trip. We improve every day and that was the most important goal of the three-day Test.’

Singh said the players have forged great friendships this week and had an absolute blast on their game drive on Wednesday.

‘We will definitely return to India with very positive memories from this week,’ he said. ‘We had a fantastic tour operator who pointed out many, many animals. Among others, we saw a pack of lions, rhinos that crossed in front of us, hyenas, zebras, a herd of elephants and even a python.

‘It was the first time some guys experienced animals in the wild and we are very grateful to GolfRSA for giving us this opportunity. But back to the golf. South Africa is in a strong position, but we’re feeling more comfortable on the course and we will definitely not go down without a big fight.’

Mitchell and new cap Matt Saulez pulled off a narrow 2 & 1 victory in round one, but the KwaZulu-Natal duo were unstoppable as they routed Sunit Chowrasia and Pukhraj Gill 6 & 4 on day two.

‘I think we both felt those first-time nerves, but Matt and I have been great friends for many years and we’ve played many IPT’s together, so we combined really well in the foursomes,’ Mitchell said.

‘You can tell that the Indian players are starting to come to grips with the course, because some of the matches went right down to the wire. The singles could get very interesting.’

Mitchell is savouring the opportunity to test his game on the international stage.

‘I’ve competed against foreigners in the premier events before, but this is the first time that I have tested myself one-on-one against these top golfers from India,’ he said. ‘It is way more pressure, but so far, I have loved the experience and I am so proud to wear the green and gold.’

Van Dyk and fellow Boland senior Francois le Roux lost their first-round tussle at the 18th hole, but the duo cruised to a 6 & 5 victory over Vijay Bhandana and Anil Jule in round two.

‘We hit more greens and sunk more putts, so we are pleased with the turnaround,’ said Van Dyk. ‘It’s been a real privilege to be part of the team and to host the Indian Golf Union players. This whole week has been unbelievable. The chance to compete against four very strong senior players at arguably the best course in the country – it’s doesn’t get much better than this. I’m looking forward to the singles, but not to the end of what has been an incredible Test and experience.’

Picture of the unbeaten SA Open Amateur and Junior teams (from left to right): Jayden Schaper, Wilco Nienaber, Matt Saulez, Christo Lamprecht, Malcolm Mitchell, Albert Venter, Luca Filippi and Luke Mayo, courtesy of GolfRSA

Day Two Results
Foursomes

South Africa leads India 13.5 – 2.5
 
SA Seniors 2 v India Seniors 0
Francois le Roux/Andre van Dyk bt Vijay Bhadana/Anil Jule 6 & 5
Steve Williams/Greg Gleeson bt David D’souza/Rishi Narain 5 & 4

SA Juniors 2 vs India Juniors 0
Christo Lamprecht Jnr/Luke Mayo bt Saarthak Chhibber/Raghav Chugh 1-up
Jayden Schaper/Wilco Nienaber bt Kartik Sharma/Harshjeet Sethie 5 & 4

SA Mid-Amateur 0.5 vs India Mid-Amateur 1.5
Gerlou Roux/Almero Theron lost Simarjeet Singh/HS Kang 2 & 1
Ryan Dreyer/Kevin Sharp halved Gagan Verma/Sanjay Lakra

SA Open Amateur 2 vs India Open 0
Albert Venter/Luca Filippi bt Kshitij Kaul/Yashas Chandra 2-up
Matt Saulez/Malcolm Mitchell bt Sunit Chowrasia/Pukhraj Gill 6 & 4


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