26 May 2014
Geoff Nicholas and Shane Luke of Australia chased down South Africa’s Reinard Schuhknecht and Daniel Slabbert over the last four holes at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa in Limpopo province to clinch the inaugural World Cup of Disabled Golf on Friday.
The South Africans took a one stroke lead into the final round and stretched the gap to two shots at the turn, but Australian duo turned up the heat coming down the straight to win by three shots.
Nicholas scored a 76 and Luke produced a 79 for a final round of 155 to give Australia a winning total of 473. The third member of their side, Graham Kenyon, carded a non-counting 88.
South African scores
South Africa’s Schuhknecht and Slabbert carded respective rounds of 78 and 81 for 159, while Conrad Stoltz signed for a 91.
Canada’s Bob MacDermott returned an 84 while Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open champion, Josh Williams, blistered the course in even-par 72 to secure third on 487.
The United States vaulted to fourth on 495, courtesy of a 73 from Kenny Bontz and a 78 from the evergreen Jim Curley, while Andy Gardiner’s 78 and an 86 from Darren Grey helped England to sixth on 510.
The evergreen Nicholas, a 12-time World Amputee champion, described the round as one of his most thrilling rallies ever.
‘A very tight contest’
“It was a very tight contest through the first 14 holes, but it turned around for us between the 14th and 16th holes,” the 52-year-old said after securing the title.
“Reinard and I both dropped shots at the 14th, but I managed a birdie at the 15th to get back to one over. Daniel missed his birdie attempt at 15 and then Shane birdied the 16th, and suddenly we were in the driver’s seat.
“It was a fantastic rally and we are absolutely delighted with the result. To go home as the first World Cup of Disabled Golf champions will go a long way in shifting attention to disabled golf at home and hopefully around the world.”
The bigger picture
Schuhknecht had been battling a wrist injury at the start of the World Cup and his final round was his best performance in the event. The reigning World One-Arm Stroke Play champion was understandably disappointed, but preferred to focus on the bigger picture.
“South Africa lost, but Daniel and I gained so much this week,” he said.
“We got to wear our country’s national colours with pride this week and, yes, we put ourselves under a lot of pressure to win. Maybe we tried too hard, but you can’t change the result.
“However, you can’t put a price on the experience of playing with seasoned international players like Geoff Nicholas, Josh Williams, Tracy Ramin, Kenny Bontz and Andy Gardiner. To watch how they conduct themselves out there was unbelievable and Daniel and I both gained from the experience.
“I’m sure we will come back even stronger next year.”
Slabbert was devastated after a double-bogey at the 18th, but a pep talk from his team-mates soon put a smile back on his face.
“We had such an incredible week, and I should focus on the experience of playing with a fantastic group of world beaters in this amazing event,” he said.
“The first World Cup was an amazing success. We hope that next year we will have double the amount of nations competing.”
LEADERBOARD – TEAMS
LEADERBOARD – INDIVIDUAL