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Gous claims historic SA Boys Championship ‘Double’

06 Apr 2013

SAGA Assistant Executive Director Neil Homann presents Zander Gous with the SA Boys Championship Match Play trophy at Benoni Country Club; credit Dale Boyce

Mpumalanga’s Zander Gous achieved a rare “double triumph” when he lifted the SA Boys Championship Match Play title at Benoni Country Club a mere three days after he claimed the Stroke Play title at the same venue.

The 17-year-old Piet Retief golfer emulated Stephen Waltman (1990), Martin Maritz (1995), Richard Sterne (1999) and Dylan Frittelli (2008) to become only the fifth junior golfer in the 25 year history of the event to win both titles when he defeated Aneurin Gounden from KwaZulu-Natal at the first play-off hole in the final on Saturday.

But, in sharp contrast to his unchallenged stroke play victory, Gous was made to work hard for his historic achievement in a titanic battle that lasted 37 holes by the unheralded Mount Edgecombe golfer.

Gous held the outright lead midway through the first 18 holes of the 36-hole final and led again at the halfway stage of the second 18 holes, but each time the young gun looked to have the victory sewn up, Gounden mounted a spirited challenge to extend the match.

“Aneurin was an incredible opponent and I have to congratulate him for his tenacity and spirit,” said an elated Gous.

“I’m thrilled with the victory and achieving the double means a lot to me, but I can honestly say that having him as an opponent has made this memory more special.  This was the toughest and most rewarding 37 holes of my career and his fighting spirit makes this victory incredibly special.”

Gous took early command of the match with birdies at the first and third holes and certainly looked like the player to beat when Gounden dropped successive shots at the seventh and eighth.

The Piet Retief golfer birdied the par-five ninth to go to 5-up, but after the turn, Gounden regrouped and gave Gous a glimpse of the battle that lay ahead.

The KwaZulu-Natal golfer began chipping away at his opponent’s lead with birdies at the 10th and 12th holes and an eagle at the par-five 14th. After another birdie at the 16th, Gous was just 1-up and Gounden levelled the playing field with yet another birdie at the par-five 18th.

Gous quickly forged ahead with a birdie at the 20th hole and was 4-up after bogeys from Gounden at the 22nd, 24th and 25th holes.  The Mpumalanga player bogeyed the next hole and both Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation members birdied the par-five 27th.

Gous led 3-up going down the back stretch, but Gounden dug in again and hit back with three successive birdies. Gous pulled his tee shot and after declaring a lost ball and reloading, was forced to concede the 28th hole when Gounden made birdie.

The KZN golfer birdied the 29th and 30th holes to square the match and the pair matched each other in pars, birdies and bogeys over the next five holes.

Gous birdied the par-five 18th but Gounden answered by knocking in an eight-footer for birdie and the pair set returned to the par-five first hole for a third time. In the sudden-death play-off, Gous split the fairway and his second pitched three meters from the pin. Gounden pushed his drive right and his second shot crossed the fairway . The ball nestled among  some trees left and short of the green. He punched out, but his third shot overshot the green, while Gous lagged his first putt just inches from the hole. Gounden’s chip finished well short of the flag and Gous sealed the victory when he popped in the winning putt.

“It was such an epic battle, and after all the excitement it was almost an anti-climax when it ended,” Gous said. “I’m still so wound up, I think it will be a while before this will all sink in.”

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