THEY CAME. THE SAW. THEY CONQUERED.
by Neil Andrews
The story of the 2019 Absa Superskills can be summed up in a relatively short sentence. Team Cricket, Veni Vidi Veci. The simple truth is Herschelle Gibbs and Vernon Philander produced a Masterclass. They slipped into Pearl Valley under the radar, drew the straw to go first in the opening discipline, duly produced a couple of monster drives and none of their opponents saw which way they went. They came, they saw and they conquered.
It has become tradition that Friday morning’s Absa Superskills challenge signals the start of competitive element at the annual BCX SuperSport Shootout. No surprise then that on a typically fresh late-autumn Cape morning the 10 golfers set to participate looked decidedly more focused than they had done at the previous evenings social gathering at the Val De Vie Polo Club. Steely-eyed, well rested and primed for battle, the five teams assembled for a final briefing on the competition breakdown.
Two Absa teams hosting a further three teams, representing Rugby, Cricket and the defending champions Soccer over four disciplines: Driving, Chipping, Putting and Greensomes. Having set a target of 270 meters Vernon Philander’s opening beat made an early statement for the cricketers and it was never bettered.
That said, it required the accuracy of the TaylorMade FlightScope tracer technology to confirm their close win with the Breyton Paulse drive giving Team Rugby the 8 points for the runner-up spot. The rules of engagement at Superskills require the winners of the previous discipline to go first in the following test. Essentially this is designed to allow the other teams an opportunity to respond to the log leaders.
But Team Cricket had clearly not read that script. Chipping first in the second discipline they showed a deftness of touch to register the closest to the pin with a 64cm approach that again left their rivals chasing tail. This time the two Absa teams filled the placings with Graeme Watson and Jason Quinn taking the second spot and the 6 points for third place going to Bobby Malabie and John Trollip.
As the ‘putting from distance’ skill approached there had still been no move from the defending champions Stanton Fredricks and Jimmy Tau. Team Soccer needed a solid showing if they were to trouble the leaders and the boys came up with goods, their closest putt being measured at 170 cm from the hole.
Hoping to bag the win they were thwarted late on by the rugby lads as Nick Mallet and Breyton Paulse registered a 155cm putt that claimed first place. Of significance, Team Cricket still managed a podium place with their putting performance, their 6 points for third ensuring them a comfortable overall lead heading to Greensomes.
However, history has repeatedly shown us that because the final Greensomes discipline counts for double the points the Absa Superskills is never over until the last ball is sunk. With 20 points up for grabs, mathematically anyone of the five teams could still lift the trophy, although a quick calculation revealed that this would require Herschelle and Vernon to fold like a cheap deckchair.
That eventuality was never on the cards and although the sponsors’ team of Bobby Malabie & John Trollip left their best golf till late and Team Rugby kept the leaders honest they both had to share the Greensome spoils with the all-conquering cricketers who never flinched and inch.
A three-way tie resulting in those three teams each adding 16 points to their total. The final points tally left little doubt as to the deserving winners. At prize-giving there were no complaints from the defeated only a rousing round of applause and hearty congratulations for the newly crowned Absa Superskills champions Herschelle Gibbs and Vernon Philander. A stellar start to finish performance.