By Michael Vlismas.
The Mother City's finest rugby players arrived at the Royal Cape Golf Club on Tuesday to personally welcome the Sunshine Tour professionals competing in this week's Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open in the only way they know how – with a match.
After the official pro-am of the tournament, DHL Stormers stars Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni and Neethling Fouche challenged Sunshine Tour professionals Brandon Stone, Daniel van Tonder, Keenan Davidse and Benjamin Follett-Smith to a par-three contest on Royal Cape's fourth hole.
Playing as a team against each other, the Sunshine Tour professionals were handicapped by having to play from their worst tee shot and each pro also had to play each of their shots or putts twice before they could score, while the Stormers could play from their best shot and only needed one shot or putt to score.
The result was a convincing 4-0 victory by the Stormers.
"Going 0-4 against four big rugby players on home turf was a tough pill to swallow. I would say we'll meet them in the car park, but looking at the size of them probably not," said Stone, who captained the Sunshine Tour professionals for this challenge.
But although pleased with the victory, the rugby players were simply delighted to have played a hole with the Sunshine Tour pros and seen, from "inside the ropes", another side of them from what they follow on television.
"It's so great to have a Sunshine Tour event in Cape Town and we're looking forward to watching them on TV. I think for the whole of Cape Town it's quite an exciting event," said Kitshoff.
Fouche was just as delighted with the experience. "What a privilege to have played with these pros. I'm a massive golf fanatic, and to play with them and see that they're just human beings like us was a privilege. What a day."
And Ntubeni, who holed the winning putt for his team, admits to never having been this nervous before.
"There's a lot of banter until you stand over that ball. It's quite stressful. I can imagine how hectic it is for them in a tournament. It was so good to meet them. To have them in our city is so important for other aspiring young golfers out there, and even for us as keen golfers. We look up to them, and we wish them the best of luck for this week."
Malherbe was also full of respect for the pressure the pros face during competition.
"There's a lot more pressure on individual sports. It's only up to them. In a team you have the safety of your teammates. So it was awesome to see how they go about it. What a nice experience. I wish the guys all the best this week."
Professional Van Tonder said he's ready for a return match against the rugby players. "I would've liked to have taken them on over a par five where I can intimidate them a bit with my driver. But it was great fun. They're a great bunch of guys."
The Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open is a tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour and tees off at Royal Cape Golf Club with the first round on Thursday.