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Dylan Sage, Marius Schoeman, Neil Powell and Werner Kok

Odwa Ndungane and Jannie de Beer

Jonas Bogoshi

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The condition of the course and the perfect weather was reflected in some outstanding scoring on day one. Three players – three-time doubles Grand Slam winner Danie Visser, Titans cricket star Henry Davids and rugby referee Stuart Berry – all mastered the conditions to card opening rounds of 5-under par 67 net.

That score gave them a slender one stroke advantage over Shootout stalwart and former Springbok winger Breyton Paulse and two over former professional golfer and now Sunshine Tour Executive Director, Selwyn Nathan.

During the course of the first round, Nathan recorded a first for the Shootout in its fifteen year history; at the par-3 12thhole he hit what he described on the SuperSport broadcast as “a lovely soft 7-iron” which took a couple of hops to the right after hitting the green and straight into the hole for the tournament’s first ‘ace’.

The better-ball competition was equally tightly poised after day one, with Berry and his partner, Patrick Moroney – a CSA board member – leading the way with a stunning 10-under par better-ball score of 62 after some superb dove-tailing. Yet they had a bunch of pairings breathing down their necks, with Nathan and Wits University football coach Gavin Hunt carding a 63 along with Paulse and his partner Riyadh Peer, past better-ball winners at the tournament.

Davids and Cape Cobras head coach Ashwell Prince – as well as Visser and his partner, former SA squash champion Adrian Hansen – were ominously positioned a further shot back following 8-under par rounds of 64 net.

The only competition with a runaway leader after day one was the Ryder Cup-style team competition, in which Team SuperSport ran up a lead of almost 30 points after the first round, prompting Captain Patel to suggest to BCX Team Captain Mabuza that they concede defeat and start a new contest on the Sunday!

The quip was made at an excellent gala dinner on the Saturday night, at which auctioneer Dale Hayes attracted hundreds of thousands of Rands from bidders for some rare items, after which Nik Rabinowitz had the room rolling around in laughter at his uniquely South African, cross-cultural style of comedy.

Also present at the dinner were representatives of the Legend African Foundation – that continues to perform uplifting work in the communities immediately surrounding the Legend Golf and Safari Resort, as well as at the nearby Rhino Orphanage – and a former Shootout winner, Tich Smith, founder of the LIV Village organisation that originated in KZN and is now spreading its wings nationally. Both the Legend Foundation and LIV Village were grateful and deserving beneficiaries of this year’s Shootout.

Unlike many previous events, in which a player had come from deep in the field after day one to challenge and even win the individual title, 2018 saw form continue from one day to the next, with most of those gracing the leader-board over the first eighteen holes staying in contention until the very end.

In the individual title race, the most impressive second day charge was made by Graeme Watson – one the country’s outstanding mid-amateur golfers – who posted a gross 2-under par round of 70 to go with his opening 73 and a 36-hole net total of 5-under par off his two handicap.

Henry Davids, off an eight handicap, posted a net level par score of 72 to add to his opening net 67 to share second place with Watson at 5-under. That was two adrift of Danie Visser who, despite a couple of wobbles around the turn when he dropped three shots in five holes, held his nerve to add a 70 to his opening 67 for a total net score of 7-under par and a well deserved individual title.

The better-ball event was a desperately close affair, with at least eight pairings very much in contention going into the final nine holes. Adding to Watson’s day two heroics, his partner Anthony Leeming contributed at crucial times for the pair to post a joint second day best of 9-under par 63 to finish in a tie for third place with Visser and Hansen and Prince and Davids on 15-under par over the two rounds.

Breyton Paulse and Riyadh Peer added a 64 to their opening 63 – dropping just one shot to par at the par-3 fourth hole on Sunday – to extend their wonderful run as a partnership in this event with a second place finish.

But the golf produced by the better-ball winners, Selwyn Nathan and Gavin Hunt, was nothing short of sublime. Playing off six and five handicaps respectively – two of the lower handicaps in the field – they reached the turn in 3-under par for their final round and then reeled of no fewer than six consecutive birdies from the 10thhole, made not a single dropped shot and finished with their second consecutive 63 for an 18-under par total and a one shot victory.

As expected, Team SuperSport were never in trouble following their big lead on day one and lifted the team trophy for the second time to make it two-all since the inception of the team competition.

The results might mean more than the competitors let on, but the tension down the final few holes was as palpable as the relief when the final winning putts fell. But as always over fifteen years of this event, the participants left having been treated like the champions they are, made new connections in business and shared new stories, but above all combined their efforts to raise millions for deserving charities, the ultimate champions in South Africa’s tournament of champions.

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