Western Province’s history of success at Port Elizabeth Golf Club, the coastal conditions, plus their experienced line-up, makes them favorites at the 52nd Interprovincial.
Eight different provinces have won titles (A and B sections) in the last five Interprovincials. Western Province and KwaZulu-Natal have each won twice going back to 2007, and there have been once-off triumphs in the different divisions for Central Gauteng, Gauteng North, Boland, Free State, Southern Cape and Limpopo.
While it’s encouraging to see the medals being spread around the country, it’s also an indication of how the tradition-ally stronger provincial unions have struggled to build a successful dynasty players today don’t hang around long in the amateur ranks before turning pro.
When the Tempest Car Hire Interprovincial returns to the Port Elizabeth Golf Club from September 17 to 21, the favorites for the A section will be Western Province, the winners in 2008 and 2010. Among the leading teams they have been least disrupted by the loss of players to the Sunshine Tour, with only two changes in personnel from the eight-man team that finished second last year at Bloemfontein GC.
The PEGC has historically been a successful venue for WP teams. They have in four previous IPTs. Des Webster’s team won there in a shock result in 1979:
— it was the first time Province had won the A section outside the Western Cape;
— and O’Brian Barber’s powerful combination of the 1980s triumphed in 1986. Their other victory came in 2003 when Cameron Johnston was captain.
The Province team this year, under the leadership of Werner Theart, has been substantially strengthened by the inclusion of two experienced performer 35-year old Gerlou Roux and 24-year old Michael Loppnow. Roux played on WP’s winning team a pro. Since being reinstated as an amateur at the beginning of the year he has won the WP Mid-Amateur title, the Border Strokeplay, and was runner-up in the Boland Strokeplay to Haydn Porteous.
Loppnow spent four years at college in the United States before returning home to Cape Town last year. He reached the quarterfinals of the SA Amateur in March, and has had three top-10s in provincial opens this year. A member at Milnerton GC, he will be comfortable in the expected windy conditions.
It has also been a successful year for Justin Turner, a member of two previstroke play and match play double at the WP Championships. Turner has won 14 of 20 singles matches in four IPT appearances, mostly at the top of the order. Three other team members, LeRiche Ehlers, J P Strydom and Theart, were part of the 2010 winning team at Pretoria CC.
Central Gauteng are the defending champions, having banished their recent IPT demons in Bloemfontein last year with a harmonious team environment. But this year they have had to rebuild, including four new caps after three top players turned pro at the end of 2011.
The captaincy has again gone to the team in PE after captaining the winning Central team at the Challenge IPT. However, they do have Jock Wellington back as manager, and his knowledge of the Eastern Cape conditions could be valuable when the Central players try and find their feet at the coast.