Port Elizabeth – What looked to be the Western Provinceâ€™s 17th triumph turned into a glorious moment for Boland and for the first time in 52-year history of the countryâ€™s most prestigious amateur teams competition, two teams will share the South African Inter-Provincial title.
After an epic battle at Port Elizabeth Golf Club on Friday, it all came down to the last two matches on the 18th green.
The stage was set when Province and co-leader Central Gauteng squared off in the foursomes and tore into the singles, knowing they needed to thwart a back door challenge from Boland.
From there the drama unfolded with all the elements of an Oscar winning blockbuster.
Having taken a 3-1 lead in the foursomes, Boland handed KwaZulu-Natal an 8-4 pounding and finished their campaign with 10 points and 35.5 games in hand.
Struggling in a gusting south-westerly, Central and Province traded blows and the leaderboard see-sawed until Western Province managed to clinch a slender lead.
It all came down to Justin Turner, all square with Haydn Porteous, and JP Strydom, 1-up on Louis Taylor, the 18th green and a crucial half point for Province to win. Then Porteous holed a 15-foot eagle putt to beat Justin Turner 1-up and Strydom three-putted from the back the green.
What should have been a half turned into 1-up victory for Central and a shocked silence around the green. Suddenly reality kicked in and Servaas de Kockâ€™s eight charges stampeded from the clubhouse to to embrace their arch rivals.
After the cheers had died down and the handshakes was exchanged, the regulation â€œwhat ifsâ€? was thrashed out, the 16 players and two managers joyously split the momentous occasion.
â€œHenk and I are absolutely thrilled with the result, as happy as we would have been if either of our teams had won,â€? said De Kock. â€œThis was a very, very tough week for everyone and the result is a fair reflection of the kind of ups and downs and comebacks both our teams have suffered and enjoyed.
â€œMy lads really played their hearts out to get us back into the fight on Thursday and today they just never let up. We knew the match between Province and Central would be close because they are two class sides, but we thought we had cut it too close. We are just delighted with the outcome.â€?
The Western Province dedicated their victory to fellow Western Province golfer, Andrew Carris.
â€œThis is for Andrew, who past away earlier this year,â€? said Henk Steenkamp, celebrating his third victory as the Western Province team manager.
â€œThis was without a doubt the toughest day of the tournament and Iâ€™m extremely proud of the team. Iâ€™ve never had a more grittier bunch of players; they just never quit. And I have to congratulate Boland on a spectacular performance, a great comeback and an impressive charge today. We are proud to share the trophy with them.â€?
In the B-Section, the celebrations started early when Southern Cape sealed their promotion with a 2Â½ – 1Â½ lead over Ekurhuleni in the foursomes.
But the champagne was kept on ice until the Garden Route side sealed the deal with a 7Â½ – 4Â½ win.
â€œWe wanted to give it one last hoorah,â€? said team manager John Mitchell. â€œThe boys wanted to produce the goods in the singles, win the match and go out on a high.
â€œOnce we wrapped it up, though, everyone let go and finally enjoyed the moment. We poured all our passion into this week and itâ€™s all paid off for us. Now we canâ€™t wait for the next one.â€?