Proteas swap fours for fairways at Leopard Creek

11/12/2012 13:38:22
South African cricket legends Jacques Kallis (right) and Mark Boucher during the Alfred Dunhill Championship Pro-Am  (Getty Images)
South African cricket legends Jacques Kallis (right) and Mark Boucher during the Alfred Dunhill Championship Pro-Am (Getty Images)

Fresh from the recent series triumph in Australia, South African cricket legend Jacques Kallis and former Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher were delighted to be competing in the Pro-Am ahead of this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship and at such a spectacular venue as Leopard Creek Country Club.

Kallis, widely regarded as one of the greatest all-round cricketers in the history of the game with 44 centuries and 282 wickets in the test format, and Boucher, who with 999 test dismissals was rated the world’s finest wicketkeeper before a freak accident led to premature retirement earlier this year, took to the unique Malelane layout alongside BMW International Open Champion Danny Willett.
 
“I think I looked forward to this week during the whole of the Australian tour,” said Kallis, who has just returned from a victorious trip Down Under, where South Africa cemented its status as the world’s number one test side with a second successive series defeat of the Australians.

“It’s nice that the time has eventually arrived to play here on this gorgeous course – it’s always nice coming up to Leopard Creek.

“That’s why we tried to finish that third test off in four days – get back to South Africa and get an extra day’s practice in!”

Boucher was forced to retire when struck in the eye by a flying bail in a warm-up match ahead of the England tour earlier in 2012, and said that although the quality of his golf had deteriorated somewhat since the freak injury, he was very much looking forward to his first round on a course which he had become an honorary member of on Monday evening.

Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert, who owns the Alfred Dunhill brand, promised Boucher membership of Leopard Creek – often voted Number One Course in South Africa – if he reached 1,000 test dismissals before his career was cruelly curtailed on 999.

However, once it was recalled that Boucher took a single wicket as a bowler in a drawn test match against the West Indies, Rupert was happy to allow the East Cape man honorary membership alongside Kallis, who was afforded the same privilege following a test double century.

“My game’s been going, rather than coming on,” said Boucher, who has a handicap of eight. “I haven’t played a lot since my injury so I’ll have to hit and hope. I’m finding reading long putts difficult with just one eye, and I’m not getting the ball close enough to cut long putts out because the eye problem is not that easy on the swing either.

“Unfortunately, they don’t give you an extra couple of shots if you’ve only got one eye!”

The South Africans, long-time colleagues and great friends, were set to be hosted by Englishman Willett, who hails from the very cricketing county of Yorkshire.

“We’re looking forward to that – we haven’t played with him before,” said Kallis, a seven handicapper. “It will be nice to get his thoughts and see how he does things. It’s always good when different sporting codes get together, and you can share stories and learn from one another.”