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SA hunts sixth African Amateur Team Champs title

17 Oct 2011

Graham van der Merwe, CJ du Plessis, Riekus Nortje and Daniel Hammond hope to keep 10 challenging Africa nations at bay this week in their hunt for South Africa’s sixth African Amateur Golf Teams Championship title.

The local quartet hope to keep the country’s uninterrupted victory run alive in the championship, which will be played at The Lake Club Benoni from 18-21 October 2011.

Since the biennial African Amateur Golf Teams Championship was launched in 2001, South Africa has dominated the event. After winning the inaugural championship in Swaziland, the local side won in Botswana (2003), Uganda (2005), Namibia (2007) and in Egypt last year.

“We have a great record in this championship but it hasn’t always been easy,” said South African Golf Association president, Colin Burger. “Some years the difference between the top teams came down to a shot of two.

“The tournament is very strongly supported and partially sponsored by the Royal and Ancient, which is why it has grown exponentially over the last decade.

“We are absolutely delighted to be hosting this year’s championship. We feel very honoured to welcome all the African nations to what is undoubtedly the African Major on the amateur calendar.”

The competing countries this year include South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Reunion Island, Mauritius, Botswana and Swaziland.

Over the next four days, the 11 participating nations will face off at one of Ekurhuleni province’s toughest tracks. The 6,536m layout at The Lake Club, Benoni is situated next to one of the four largest expanses of water lakes that form a chain through Ekurhuleni and is well known as the Middle Lake.

This 18 hole Parkland's layout course demands accuracy, a solid short game and above standard putting, but with the country’s top four ranked amateurs campaigning in New Zealand, Van der Merwe said he and his team mates are relishing the chance to fly the flag for South Africa.

“The visiting countries have mostly arrived with their top players and we have a chance to check them out in the practice round,” he said. “These guys would love to beat us at home. The standard will be very high this week and we are expecting a tough championship.”

The championship will be contested over four rounds of stroke play. Each team consists of four players, but only the best three scores per round will count toward the team total.

The country with the lowest gross score at the end of the championship will be crowned the AAGTC champion and there is also a prize for the overall individual winner.

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