The victorious Australian team celebrates at the inaugural World Cup of Disabled Golf at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa; (photo: Tyrone Winfield)

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 to clinch the inaugural World Cup of Disabled Golf.

The South Africans took a one stroke lead into the final round and stretched the gap to two shots at the turn, but the 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 155 to give Australia a winning total of  473. The third member of the side, Graham Kenyon, carded a non-counting 88.

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.

“It was a very tight contest through the first 14 holes, but it turned around for us between the 14th and 16th holes” said the 52-year-old from Sydney.

“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.”

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,” said 21-year-old.

“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.”

Final Leaderboard – TEAMS

473 – Australia 154 164 155
476 – South Africa 160 154 159
487 – Canada 166 165 156
495 – United States 184 160 151
510 – England 182 164 164
531 – New Zealand 180 170 181
542 – Sweden 185 181 176

Final Leaderboard – INDIVIDUAL

228 Geoff Nicholas AUS 72 80 76
231 Josh Williams CAN 80 79 72
236 Kenny Bontz USA 85 78 73
236 Daniel Slabbert RSA 78 77 81
242 Reinard Schuhknecht RSA 82 82 78
245 Shane Luke AUS 82 84 79
247 Andy Gardiner ENG 90 79 78
256 Bob McDermott NZ 86 86 84
257 Krister Munther SWE 87 88 82
262 James Curley USA 99 85 78
264 Johannes Grames CAN 91 87 86
265 Darren Grey ENG 92 87 86
266 Conrad Stoltz RSA 95 80 91
266 Graham Kenyon AUS 90 88 88
268 Jason Eade NZ 90 86 92
268 Tracy Ramin USA 99 82 87
268 Wayne Eder NZ 90 89 89
272 Darren Reti NZ 92 84 96
278 Paul Tookey ENG 94 85 99
288 David Schutsander SWE 101 93 94
293 Lars Lindenberg SWE 98 101 94

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