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Ken Borland



Stone displays top-class golf & temperament in big Leopard Creek win 0

Posted on December 09, 2016 by Ken

Brandon Stone produced a top-class display of golf and a wonderful temperament as he swept to a seven-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Sunday.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a three-stroke lead over a trio of golfers – including defending champion Charl Schwartzel, a four-time winner at Leopard Creek – and fired a brilliant five-under-par 67 on a sweltering day alongside the southern border of the Kruger National Park.

That left him on a magnificent 22-under-par for the tournament, a total bettered only once at Leopard Creek, by Schwartzel when he shot 24-under in 2013.

That Stone has a rare talent when it comes to golf was already clear, the SA Open champion showing that in his first three rounds of 67, 66 and 66, but it was his superb temperament that shone through on Sunday, as he absorbed an early charge by Schwartzel and then obliterated South Africa’s number two ranked golfer and the rest of the field.

Schwartzel started the final round with a pair of birdies and then when he birdied the par-four sixth hole, he had drawn level with Stone.

The Rustenburg-born golfer immediately birdied the sixth himself though, and added another birdie on the seventh.

Trying to keep a low ball-flight on the long par-four eighth, the second toughest hole on Sunday, Stone took a Driver off the deck, but put his ball in the rough, leading to a bogey.

“It’s my most fun shot, but I just hit it a bit heavy,” Stone explained afterwards.

So he went to the turn one-under-par and just one ahead of Schwartzel, but Stone produced a phenomenal change of gear on the back nine, rattling off pairs of birdies on 10 and 11 and 13 and 14. It was all part of the plan he said, showing his maturity.

“On the front nine I was tied for the lead at one stage and it was reminiscent of the SA Open. But I knew my game-plan was to be one or two under for the front nine and then try and score on the back nine, and I was able to get some momentum going,” Stone said.

By the time Stone bogeyed the par-four 17th, there was nobody anywhere near him.

There had been signs of fight from Schwartzel as he sank a 20-foot putt for birdie from the fringe on the par-four 11thhole, but there were inconsistencies in his game.

The rot began on the par-five 13th when, after a superb drive down the middle of the fairway, he put his approach shot into the greenside bunker.

He took two shots to get out of the sand, and another two putts to finish the hole, the bogey he made meaning he was five behind Stone when the youngster birdied the same hole a few minutes later.

There was no coming back for Schwartzel, in fact there was even more pain.

On the par-five 15th he twice hit into thick rough before finding the water, eventually signing for an eight, and then his tee-shot on the par-three 16th also went into the drink, leading to a double-bogey.

Even though Schwartzel birdied the last, he was left in a tie for fourth on 12-under-par with compatriot Thomas Aiken (69), Frenchman Benjamin Hebert (72), Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (69), Spaniard Carlos Pigem (69) and England’s Graeme Storm (68), after a 74.

It was not a good day either for the other two golfers who were tied for second overnight with Schwartzel.

South African Keith Horne was off to a terrible start with two bogeys and a double in his first four holes, and was left in a tie for 11th on 10-under-par after a 76, while Hanson was also blown off course early on with a seven on the par-five second hole, finishing with the same score as Horne.

Richard Sterne was the big beneficiary of all that carnage, shooting an impressive 67 to climb from seventh to second on 15-under-par overall.

Young Belgian Thomas Detry was also impressive in shooting a 68 that left him in third place on 13-under.

Although it seemed an almost effortless victory for Stone, he said he had to sweat both literally and figuratively in the 40 degree heat.

“It certainly wasn’t stress free and I was absolutely cooked at the end, I was the first guy into the shade whenever there was a break in play. But it’s probably the best I’ve played, my ball-striking was superb from the first hole to the last and there wasn’t a hole that I was really in trouble on all week. To shoot 22-under around here is not a simple task, it’s quite something,” an ecstatic Stone said.

It was an amazing display of golf and deserving of the cool R2.8 million winning cheque Stone received.

http://citizen.co.za/uncategorized/1365143/stone-displays-top-class-golf-in-big-leopard-creek-win/

Stone shows he’s blessed with temperament as well as ‘game’ 0

Posted on December 08, 2016 by Ken

 

Young Brandon Stone is undoubtedly blessed with a terrific golf game but an equally impressive temperament as he showed on Sunday by blazing his way to a seven-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The 23-year-old began the day with a three-stroke lead over defending champion Charl Schwartzel, who has won the tournament four times, and showed immense composure as South Africa’s number two ranked golfer drew level with him after six holes.

But Stone stuck to his game-plan of staying conservative on the tougher front nine, turning in one-under-par, before obliterating the field on the back nine as he raced to a five-under-par 67, including five birdies, that left him on 22-under-par for the tournament, the second-best winning score ever.

It was the vastly more experienced Schwartzel who disintegrated, a bogey at the par-five 13th, when he wasted a superb drive by taking two shots to get out of a greenside bunker, being followed by a disastrous eight at the par-five 15th and then a double-bogey on the par-three 16th after more water trouble.

In fact, Stone stared down all his challengers, with Keith Horne and Chris Hanson both fading to 76s for 10-under overall, while Benjamin Hebert could only manage a level-par 72 to finish in a tie for fourth on 12-under and David Drysdale shooting a 73 to finish on 10-under.

Richard Sterne, second on 15-under-par after a 67, and young Belgian Thomas Detry, who finished third in just his fifth European Tour start after a 68, were the chief beneficiaries of the carnage up top the leaderboard.

“It wasn’t stress free but it feels great and it’s massive to have my name alongside those big ones already on the trophy. It’s probably the best I’ve played, my ball-striking was superb from the first to last hole and there wasn’t a hole where I was really in trouble all week. To shoot 22-under around here is not a simple task, it’s quite something,” a delighted Stone said after his second European Tour triumph following his SA Open win at the start of the year.

A pair of birdies on the sixth and seventh holes were key for Stone as they kept him under par on the front nine, even though he bogeyed the eighth, taking a lot of flak for hitting Driver off the deck.

“On the front nine I was tied for the lead at one stage and it was reminiscent of the SA Open. But I knew my game-plan was to be one or two under for the front nine and then try and score on the back nine and I was able to get some momentum going,” Stone said.

Victory was sealed on the 13th shortly after Schwartzel’s bogey there as Stone narrowly missed his putt for eagle after a superb drive and approach shot to 25 feet, his birdie giving him a five-shot lead.

Stone was just way too hot for the rest of the field on a sweltering 40 degree day in Malelane.

 

Schwartzel puts two frustrating years behind him at Leopard Creek 0

Posted on December 01, 2015 by Ken

 

Charl Schwartzel put two years of brutally hard work, frustration and demoralisation behind him as he won the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Sunday, cruising to victory by four strokes in the co-sanctioned European/Sunshine Tour event outside Malelane.

It is Schwartzel’s first win since he completed a hat-trick of titles at Leopard Creek in the last week of November 2013; since then his swing disintegrated and he even discovered that his putting had major flaws.

“It feels fantastic to win again because the last two years have been the biggest slump my golf has ever been in, sometimes I would think ‘am I ever going to win again?’ I’ve worked really hard in that time, your expectations get higher and then it’s frustrating when one or two bad rounds mean you just can’t get to the top,” Schwartzel said after his final-round 70 left him on 15-under-par for the tournament.

“There are 13 years of demons running around in my head and that’s a lot of demons to fight. It gets harder, but I feel that I’m a better player. I don’t think I can improve much on what happens on the range – where my game feels flawless – and I just need to bring that game to the golf course more often, I need to make that gap between the two smaller.”

What made the 31-year-old’s 10th European Tour victory even more special was that he did not play anywhere near his best over the weekend but was still able to do what was necessary to win.

“It was a struggle over the weekend, I was way off my best game, but to get it done, to manage my way around, keep the ball in play and grind it out, means I’d give my effort an A+, that’s a big achievement. Jack Nicklaus said he won many tournaments with his B or C game, and that’s what makes this win even more satisfying,” Schwartzel said.

Frenchmen Sebastien Gros and Benjamin Hebert were Schwartzel‘s closest challengers at the start of the final round, but they both fell back, Hebert only managing a level-par 72 to finish third on 10-under and Gros being derailed by successive double-bogeys on the third and fourth holes on his way to a 73 and fourth place on nine-under.

Instead it was the old boy, Gregory Bourdy, who flew the Tricolour highest as he surged into second place on 11-under-par with a 68. Things could have been very different if the 33-year-old hadn’t found the dreaded bunker left of the seventh green, from where he chipped into the water and ended with a six on the par-three.

Another Frenchman, Thomas Linard (70), finished in a tie for fifth on eight-under-par alongside Englishman Matt Ford (70) and Joost Luiten (71) of the Netherlands.

Jaco van Zyl, who fired a 64 for the lowest round of the day, and defending champion Branden Grace (71) were the next best South Africans, in a tie for eighth place on seven-under with Englishman Eddie Pepperell (68).

 

 

 

Grace surges to victory with addictive blend of power & precision 0

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Ken

Branden Grace produced an addictive blend of power off the tee and precise, risk-free golf as he surged to a seven-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in Malelane on Sunday.

Grace has now led a European Tour event going into the final round on five occasions and has won every time; whatever it is that courses through his veins in those pressure situations, the sports medicine industry would no doubt love to turn it into a drug.

Without detracting from the quality of golf he produced on Sunday in shooting a four-under-par 68, Grace’s task was made easier by his nearest challengers, Lucas Bjerregaard and Danny Willett, both playing the back nine as if they were in a stupor, plummeting down the leaderboard.

Grace dared to take driver off the tee on a course that has plenty of punishing bush to catch the offline shot.

“I was great off the tee, on a course where you really need to be. I felt so comfortable with my driver and the par-fives were the big turnaround today, I played them in one-over yesterday [Saturday], but today I was four-under,” Grace said.

The 26-year-old started well with birdies at the second and fourth holes and even though he bogeyed the par-three seventh after finding the matted grass left of the green, he was out in 34 and was two ahead of Willett.

Bjerregaard had been knocked to the canvas by a triple-bogey six at the seventh. His tee shot was even further left than Grace’s, in thicker grass, but his chip looked like a good one. Unfortunately for the Dane, it just kept rolling on the hard and fast green, past the hole and into the water.

He was probably still upset about his bad luck when he bogeyed the eighth, but then everything fell apart on the back nine as Bjerregaard came home in an astonishing 50 comprising five bogeys, two double-bogeys and a quadruple-bogey on the par-four 11th. His final round of 89 is surely the worst by a player in the leading group on the last day of a tournament.

Willett was two-under for his round through 15 holes, but his cheeky smile turned into a scowl on 16 when his tee-shot was short of the green and in the water on the par-three. He then bogeyed 17 and was thoroughly disheartened by the time he carded an eight on the 18th to finish in a tie for fourth on 10-under after a 76.

Their ham-fisted efforts at catching him brought some sympathy from Grace.

“This course does that to you, as soon as you start to push it bites you. Lucas was a bit unlucky on the seventh and after that nothing went his way. But to win so convincingly is nice, it’s a great start to the new season after a hard year,” Grace said.

Just to add to the local flavour of celebration, Louis Oosthuizen shot a fine three-under-par 69 and climbed into second place on 13-under and was waiting to spray his good friend Grace with champagne on the 18th green.

It was a win to savour for Grace, beating a quality field and returning to the European Tour’s winners’ circle after two years.

“It’s something special being the first player to win wire-to-wire here because this is one of the tournaments every South African golfer wants to win, especially because of what Mr and Mrs Rupert do for golf. My game was spot-on today, there weren’t a lot of misses, maybe two bad shots all day,” Grace said.

Englishman Andrew Johnston, who finished on top of the Challenge Tour rankings, shot a one-over-par 73 on Sunday, but it was enough for him to jump up to third, while South African Trevor Fisher Jnr was on fire on the back nine, carding five birdies to finish with a 69 and tied with Willett in fourth place.

 http://citizen.co.za/293512/grace-victorious-alfred-dunhill-championship/



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