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by Matt Pearce


As has become custom, the BCX Supersport Shootout was preceded on the Friday by the ABSA Superskills contest, pitting five teams against each other over four disciplines: putting, nearest the pin, longest drive and three holes of greensomes.

The contest was made that much more difficult in 2020 by the strong winds and at times torrential rains that fell while it was playing out. Slippery grips and drenched clothing were standard as the players battled the elements but, to their collective credit, all with broad smiles on their faces.

In the 2020 edition of ABSA Superskills, cricket was represented by Herschelle Gibbs and Vernon Philander, soccer by Shaun Bartlett and Mark Tovey and rugby by Schalk Brits and Jean de Villiers. Sponsors ABSA were represented by two pairings: Jason Quinn and Graeme Watson, along with Ockert Henning and Koos van der Merwe.

The cricketers were quickly off the mark, taking the maximum 10 points from the first two disciplines – putting and nearest the pin – to hold an eight point lead over Henning and Van der Merwe going into the longest drive discipline.

A critical component in the longest drive competition is needing to be on the fairway, which not one of the sporting contestants managed, meaning all had to be content with a tie for last place, taking four points each.

Jean de Villiers did manage to provide everyone with a light-hearted moment when his attempt at longest drive was hit firmly ‘on the head’, popping off the tee, hitting the ground, traveling straight up into the air and coming to rest about half a metre from where it started. Wet grips, obviously!

Van der Merwe and Henning managed to use the opportunity to close in on the lead going into the final discipline, the three holes of greensomes, played over the par-3 sixth, the par-4 eighth and par-5 ninth holes on the Jack Nicklaus Signature course at Pearl Valley.

With double points on offer for each hole of greensomes, the cricketers used the par-3 sixth to move further into the lead after a superb approach. But then it all started to unravel fro Gibbs and Philander on the final two holes with victory within their grasp. They tied for fourth (6 points) on the penultimate hole and then finished last (4 points) on the final hole to open the door for the chasing pack.

Van der Merwe and Henning was the pair to take the advantage, finishing strongly with a tie for first place with two other pairings (16 points each) on the par-4 eighth hole and a tie for first with the other ABSA team, Quinn and Watson (18 points each) on the par-5 ninth hole.

That gave them a cumulative score of 64 points across all disciplines, six ahead of Quinn and Watson and 10 ahead of Gibbs and Philander, who it appears went out hard in the powerplay but couldn’t navigate the final overs of the contest to their satisfaction!

Sponsors ABSA had nominated Ockert Henning and Koos van der Merwe to represent their brand as one of their two teams and were delighted to have their names on their own trophy once more.

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