THERE is only one place to be this week to catch the crème de la crème of South African amateur golf, and that is the 52nd South African interprovincial being held at the PE Golf Club from today.
History and form favour defending champions Central Gauteng, who broke a five-year winning drought when they beat Gauteng North in a thrilling final-round battle last year to lift the title for a record 25th time.
Although Jock Wellington's team have four new caps, the manager has a line-up loaded with in-form winners, with one player in the top 40 of the world amateur rankings, two in the top 10 and four in the top 20, and all eight inside the top 50 of the South African Golf Association rankings.
Heading the onslaught is South Africa's leading amateur, Haydn Porteous, who returns having sewn up the SA Amateur Stroke Play, Boland Open, the KwaZulu-Natal double, Gauteng North Open and Limpopo Open titles this season, as well as a runner-up finish at the Scottish Strokeplay Championship in June.
Gauteng North will field a team with the same number of new caps, but return without Brandon Stone, one of their star players last year.
In addition to Central Gauteng, Gauteng North and newly promoted Limpopo – making their A Section debut – other teams battling for the title include 2008 champions Boland, 2009 champions KwaZulu-Natal and 2010 winners Western Province.
In the B Section, hosts Eastern Province favour their home course advantage as they aim to emulate the winning EP team who won promotion at home in 2003.
"We are up against Southern Cape and Free State and Northern Cape [today] and that will set the tone for our week," EP team manager Richard Hargreaves said.
"Southern Cape will still be smarting over their relegation last year, so they will be a tough side to beat, and Free State and Northern Cape are always gritty opponents.
"Of course, my guys are all wind specialists, so we are hoping it blows a gale [today] ... if the wind gets up, I back my team every time to come out on the winning side."
Today's matches are:
Section A: Central Gauteng v Limpopo, WP v Boland, Gauteng North v KwaZulu-Natal
Section B: S Cape v EP v Free State-N Cape, North West v Ekurhuleni v Mpumalanga