Eastern Province earned the coveted promotion in the 54th South African Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, after emerging unbeaten in an epic B-Section battle for supremacy against KwaZulu-Natal at Westlake Golf Club on Friday.
Eastern Province had a two point edge going into the final round, but it was still too close to call after KwaZulu-Natal took a 3-1 lead over North West and Eastern Province finished 1-3 down to Mpumalanga in the Foursomes.
It went right down to the wire for the champions as the men in black threw everything into the final skirmish to triumph 10.5 – 1.5 after taking seven Singles against North West.
But it was all too little, too late as Mzuyanda Zingela inspired his charges to rally for a narrow 6.5 – 5.5 victory against Free State.
David Konzani took the first scalp for Eastern Province and the 49-year-old skipper battled Justice Mashego to the 18th to square his game.
Andile Adam, Fezekile Kana, Naldo Claassen and Sieg Human claimed the crucial points to take Eastern Province back to the premier section for the first time since 2005.
“Words cannot describe how proud I am right now,” Zingela said. “It has been a long road back to the A-Division. This is a massive achievement for Eastern Province.”
It was an emotional victory for Zingela, who was honoured with a commemorative plaque during the closing ceremony for his record 23rd consecutive appearance in the country’s premier team event.
“I guess I have a new goal to pursue now, but I just hope it doesn’t take us another 23 years to win the A-Section,” he joked.
“Winning this year means the world to me. We came back against North West and I knew we could do it against Mpumalanga.
“I am so incredibly proud of this team and the spirit with which they contested this tournament. We had a great balance of youth and experience, but every man on the team fought until the last putt in every match. They never gave up and they have made me, and our union, incredibly proud.”
B-SECTION RESULT – Round Five
Mpumalanga 5.5 vs Eastern Province 6.5
Free State 7.5 vs Limpopo 4.5
KwaZulu-Natal 10.5 vs North West 1.5
1 Eastern Province (6, 6, 0, 0, 12, 45)
2 KwaZulu-Natal (6, 5, 0, 1, 10, 51.5)
3 North West (6, 3, 1, 2, 7, 35)
4 Mpumalanga (6, 2, 1, 3, 5, 34.5)
5 Free State (6, 2, 0, 4, 4, 34.5)
6 Limpopo (6, 1, 0, 5, 2, 26)
7 Border (6, 1, 0, 5, 2, 25.5)