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Places up for grabs in KZN team as selection day looms

Posted by Gail Channell
Gail Channell
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on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 in News

IMG 6738G Sole

Gavin Sole - on the green. (Photo credit - David Rush)

THERE are only three tournaments left before the KwaZulu-Natal golf team will be selected to play in the South African Interprovincial which will be held at Oubaai Golf Club in George this year.

These are the David Suddards Trophy at Durban Country Club on June 17, the Ilembe Golf Federation Open at Prince's Grant GC on July 1 and then the KZN Closed at Selborne Park GC on July 21-22.

Again, the province should be able to field a team that can win the event.

Malcolm Mitchell (Kloof CC), Matt Saulez and Clayton Mansfield (both Durban CC) have all played for South Africa this year. 

So has Chris Woollam (Durban CC), but unfortunately he'll be at college golf in the USA by the time the IPT rolls around.

Greg McKay and Siyanda Mwandla (both Mount Edgecombe CC) have been regulars over the past few years, as has Jason Broomhead (Durban CC).

Of the 'older' players captain Gavin Sole (Southbroom GC) hasn't played as much tournament golf as he'd have liked, while Derek Scullard (Mount Edgecombe CC) has been in imposing form, especially at mid-amateur level.

Knocking on the door are Luke Mayo (Mount Edgecombe CC) and Jason Gilliver (Selborne Park).

Nikhil Gopal (Victoria CC) is making some sit up and take notice, as has Jono Broomhead, Jason's younger brother.

Byron Coetzee (Cotswold Downs) has been steadily improving.

A look at the national rankings reveals that KZN golfers are doing nicely.

At the moment this is what their rankings looks like, including number of events: 2 Mitchell (17), 3 Saulez (17), 6 Woollam (10), 11 Mansfield (15), 14 Mayo (13), 18 McKay (20), 31 Coetzee (15), 43 Mwandla (21), 63 Broomhead (10), 70 Sole (2). 

Scullard is ranked first in the mid-amateur rankings, opting to play these events to get a green blazer.

The top eight in the KZN rankings as of now are: 1 Mitchell, 2 Jason Broomhead, 3 Mwandla, 4 Gilliver, 5 Sole, 6 Jono Broomhead, 7 Graham Dickinson. 8 Dave Watson.

It's pretty obvious picking from the latter ranking is not an option.

The national ranking gives a better idea, but is also not all-telling as some players don't travel as much for one reason or another.

Then there are things like past experience and foursomes combinations to consider.

Most sports writers like trying to predict teams ahead of time.

Here's a team I believe will win: Mitchell and Mansfield; Saulez and Mayo; McKay and Scullard. Plus two of Sole, Mwandla, Broomhead and Gilliver.

That top six pretty much selects itself and I fancy those foursomes combinations.

Sole has captained for quite some time and has years of under-the-gun pressure experience.

But he's on the wrong side of 40 now and has admitted that if there are youngsters playing better, he'd be happy to see them push through.

However, he's still capable of low rounds, especially in the wind on tight courses.

Gilliver is most improved player in the province (aside from unavailable Woollam) and has won four tournaments on the local circuit since last year.

He also produced some exciting matchplay golf towards the end of the recent SACD tournament, where he ended the week playing number one.

He hits it a country mile and plays league foursomes with Sole.

Mwandla has been a steady campaigner for a few years now and it seems incredible that he might be fighting for his place in the team.

But that's sport. 

He's shown top commitment to his game, having played the most national events (21) while Gilliver, for example, has only played a few and isn't even on the national rankings yet. 

Broomhead is also a consistent, neat player who has a calm on-course demeanour. He'll need some good results to gain reselection.

There's no place to hide at an IPT so all the players, from one to eight, need to produce.

It'll be interesting to see who can do what between now and selection time.

David Rush

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