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Moshe wins gold

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Team South Africa won its first gold medal of the ongoing Maccabi Games when its lone golfer, Johannesburg-based 74-year-old Moshe Duek, won the individual net competition in the Grand Masters (65-plus) category at Caesarea Golf Club, the only golf course in Israel, on 15 July.

By winning the tournament, played over 54 holes, against about 40 other golfers, Duek added to the three medals (one gold and two silver) he had won at previous Maccabiahs.

“It feels amazing to have won gold,” says Duek. “I didn’t think I could win it. The only disappointing thing is that I was on my own. No other players from South Africa were there. That was difficult because every other team came with many players, like four or five teams. It was sad not to see a South African. The person who is in charge of Caesarea said they always love to have the South Africans and they were disappointed that nobody came, only Moshe did.”

In the boiling heat, Duek played 18 holes on each of the three days. “The first two days, I played really well. I played under my handicap. The last day, I was a bit weaker. That’s why I didn’t think I would win it. But it seems like everybody had a bad day on the last day. When the management called me and said that I’d won the gold, I was very surprised, but very happy obviously.”

Duek’s family were in Israel to support him. “It was lovely being with all my family. I have family in Israel and the others came from the US and South Africa. They all walked with me when I was playing. It was just amazing, unbelievable. My children went to the opening ceremony.”

He says the Maccabi Games are “a big thing” in Israel. “I think it’s the biggest Maccabiah we ever had, with over 10 000 athletes.” Indeed, this year’s Maccabiah will be the world’s largest sporting event for the year 2022.

“It was so great to see all the Americans and Australians wishing me Mazeltov and so on. It’s very special. It’s the best thing an amateur can win in Israel. You are participating with players from all over the world. I played with Australians, Americans, Uruguayans etc. It’s quite interesting to play with all these people, meet them, have coffee with them and then have a meal with them after the game. It’s an amazing, amazing week.”

Next month, Duek will be swinging his golf club at Fancourt on the Garden Route in the Western Cape, before playing in the Swazi Open at Sun City in October. “I’m very involved in golf,” he concludes. “I live at Houghton Golf Club on the golf course with my wife, Carla. I have mates there. All my mates in South Africa are very proud of me that I won the golf. It was an amazing week for me.”

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