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Ken Borland



First matchplay championship in 25 years on Sunshine Tour 0

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Ken

 

For the first time in nearly 25 years, a matchplay tournament will feature on the Sunshine Tour programme when the South African Matchplay Championship is held at Zwartkop Country Club from Tuesday to Sunday.

Zwartkop is a short, 6,442-metre course in Centurion that is ideally suited to matchplay golf. It hosted a famous exhibition match in 1966 between Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.

As Dale Hayes, the popular Yogi-Bear like figure synonymous with South African golf and the owner/director of Zwartkop, points out, the course may not be long, but the Hennops River winding through it presents a good mental challenge, especially for matchplay. Several of the smallish greens are fringed by the river, meaning shots that are either too short or too long are in danger of a watery grave.

“Top-class golfers hit the ball so far these days that Zwartkop is not long enough to be a great test of strokeplay golf. But when Handa [the sponsors] contacted me about hosting an event and they asked what format we should have, I straight away said matchplay.

“Because of the river, there’s water on 10 of the holes, with seven of those coming into play for the pros. So there’s a lot of risk or reward involved and a golfer needs to decide if he’s going to be aggressive or not. If he’s standing over a shot and is first to go, he’s got to decide whether to have a go or play it safe.

“You need a lot of thinking around this golf course – you can’t just step up and smash driver. Every shot requires a lot of thought and if you get too clever, then the water will be waiting for you,” Hayes said.

While this weekend’s HSBC Champions in China will obviously attract the biggest names in South African golf, Hayes says he is still “very pleased” with the quality of the field.

Jbe Kruger, the diminutive golfer with the heart of a Staffie who is third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, will headline the 128-man field and can expect a stiff challenge from the likes of reigning SA Open champion Hennie Otto, former champion James Kingston, veteran Des Terblanche and three-time European Tour winner Darren Fichardt.

Hayes is expecting a highly entertaining show from these top golfers.

“Matchplay is the most popular form of golf; it’s what you play against your buddies. Spectators can come and see some special golf. The golfers will be aggressive and will go for it and there should be lots of birdies and eagles, which you don’t see in strokeplay,” Hayes said.

The prize pool is R2 million and the winner will walk away with R300,000 as well as valuable Order of Merit points, while even first-round losers take away R4,700 from the event.

The support from the sponsor’s founder, Dr Haruhisa Handa’s ISPS – the International Sports Promotion Society – means there will also be a disabled component to the tournament.

Sixteen disabled golfers, including some from the On Course Foundation, which gives seriously injured members of the British Armed Forces the opportunity to play golf, will play in a concurrent tournament.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-10-29-golf-first-matchplay-championship-in-25-years-on-sunshine-tour/#.WbZ5CbIjHIU

The most memorable performance by a fast bowler 0

Posted on August 01, 2016 by Ken

 

The thrilling Kagiso Rabada stole the show at the CSA Awards this week by claiming most of the trophies for himself with the same ruthlessness he displays in targeting the batsman’s wicket, but the most memorable performance by a fast bowler, for me, came the night before at the 25 Years of Unity celebration when Vincent Barnes spoke movingly about the challenges he had to face as a cricketer whose career was ruined by Apartheid.

Barnes is currently the high performance manager for Cricket South Africa, having previously served for many years as the national team’s bowling coach. But he was also arguably the greatest cricketer in the non-racial ranks during the decade before 1991’s formation of the United Cricket Board and the return to international cricket.

The pitches were notoriously poor on their side of the divide – the Apartheid government certainly wasn’t bothered with providing facilities for the majority back then – but Barnes’ figures stand head and shoulders above everyone else in his generation: 323 wickets at an average of just 11.95!

The injustices of Apartheid meant Barnes had to work doubly hard just to play cricket and the passion he has for the game overcame the fact that there was no higher outlet for his talents. But the 56-year-old has seldom spoken of those frustrations – unlike some of the privileged set who were denied international cricket due to isolation – and instead focused on passing on his knowledge to the new, unified generation of South African cricketers.

The greats of White cricket were also acknowledged at the celebration, but it was Barnes’ story of overcoming the odds which was the most poignant for me.

As good as the awards dinner was the next evening, the shadow of sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s enormous ego and Donald Trump-like “leadership” did hang over it a bit for me. I am sad that Cricket South Africa’s response to the increase in pressure from the sports minister for a faster transformation pace, purely intended to put the spotlight on himself in this election year, has been to kowtow to a man who is all bluster and no positive action.

First we had HD Ackerman shamefully removed from the hosting duties because he is taking up a job in Australia (Derek Alberts did a fine job standing in), and then the announcement that quotas will be formally introduced at national level. At least that ends the dishonest sham that resulted in disasters like last year’s World Cup semifinal.

As if to really drive home the point that CSA have worked harder on transformation than any other code, Rabada then takes home half-a-dozen awards.

What was miserable Mbalula’s response? – a tweet that read “Congratulatons! Kagiso Rabada, I sincerely believe you not gonna disappear after being used like all others who came bfo”.

 



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