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Ken Borland



Air of inevitability as Schwartzel wins Tshwane Open 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

 

There was an air of inevitability early in the final round that Charl Schwartzel would win the Tshwane Open, but the world number 43 impressed everybody with the sheer quality of his play to shoot a brilliant 63 and win the co-sanctioned title by a massive eight strokes at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.

An eagle on the par-five ninth hole after a superb second shot from the semi-rough meant Schwartzel was four ahead of Zander Lombard at the turn and huge birdie putts of 40 and 35 feet respectively on the two par-threes coming in, the 14th and 16th, sealed the deal for the former Masters champion.

Young Lombard had started the day just one stroke behind Schwartzel, but wilted as the pressure of playing in the lead two-ball with one of South Africa’s best golfers began to weigh heavily on him, the wheels eventually coming off with double-bogeys on 16 and 17 as the Joburg Open runner-up crashed to a 74 and a share of seventh place.

“On the first three days I hit the ball well above standard but my putting was below standard. So it was very satisfying that the putting came right in the final round, today was a big step forward. I’ve played a lot here and it’s good to play on familiar ground, it makes your chances better. This has certainly boosted my confidence and I’m excited to get back to America,” Schwartzel said.

Schwartzel collected seven birdies and an eagle, offset by two bogeys, to finish on 16-under-par for the lowest score and biggest winning margin in the event’s four-year history. The 31-year-old once again relied on his superior ability with the long-irons to separate himself from the rest of the field to dramatic effect.

“I’ve always had the capability to hit my long-irons longer and more accurately than most golfers, which is a big advantage. It means I can hit a six-iron where others are taking a four-iron, which gives me more loft and allows me to eliminate a lot of unnecessary mistakes. From a young age I’ve been able to hit my long-irons very well,” Schwartzel said.

As Lombard tumbled down the leaderboard after his tee-shot on 16 strayed on to the edge of the moat next to the green, it allowed Denmark’s Jeff Winther to be the sole runner-up as he calmly soared up the leaderboard with a 64 to finish on eight-under-par.

Schwartzel’s other challengers were all washed away in the eddies of his brilliance, with Anthony Michael finishing third after a level-par 70 left him on six-under-par and Haydn Porteous slipped to a 73 and a share of 10th place on three-under-par with Brandon Stone (66) and Jaco van Zyl (67).

Justin Walters, Richard Sterne and Dean Burmester all climbed the leaderboard to finish in a tie for fourth on five-under-par, while Australian Brett Rumford and Scotland’s Jamie McLeary finished with Lombard in seventh on four-under-par.

 

Brilliant Fisher Jnr roars to victory at Africa Open 0

Posted on November 02, 2015 by Ken

 

Trevor Fisher Junior roared to victory by five strokes in the Africa Open at East London Golf Club on Sunday, shooting a brilliant eight-under-par 64 to consign Englishman Matt Ford to second.

Ford, who led after the first two rounds, did little wrong but his five-under-par 67 was no match for Fisher Junior’s superb round, which gave one of the most popular golfers on the Sunshine Tour a long-awaited European Tour exemption.

The Johannesburg-based golfer expressed his joy at what could be a breakthrough triumph.

“I’ve tried so hard to get that European Tour card, for so many years. Obviously it’s a massive step for my career because that’s where all South African golfers want to be,” Fisher Junior said.

The crucial moment came on the par-four ninth hole when Fisher Junior fired a four-iron 10 feet from the flag and sank the birdie putt, while Ford missed a six-foot putt for par, leaving him three shots behind.

It proved too big a mountain for the European Tour rookie to climb and Fisher Junior was all class in holding off third-placed internationals Morten Orum-Madsen, Jorge Campillo and Eduardo de la Riva as well.

 

 

Sullivan happy to play all his golf in Joburg 0

Posted on September 18, 2015 by Ken

 

Englishman Andy Sullivan said he would be happy to play all his golf in Johannesburg after he added the Joburg Open title on Sunday to the South African Open he won seven weeks ago at Glendower, the 28-year-old sealing a two-shot triumph with a brilliant 66.

Sullivan won the national open in a dramatic playoff with Charl Schwartzel, impressing with his happy demeanour despite the tension down the stretch, and yesterday he was once again relaxed as he dropped just one shot in making up a three-shot deficit.

“I’ve been working hard with my coach and psychologist, but enjoying myself too. Every time I’m in contention, I wish I could bottle those emotions, it’s an unbelievable feeling and I seem to thrive on it.

“I wish I could play in Johannesburg every week! I felt really good down the stretch at Glendower and even better today. There wasn’t any pressure, I was very relaxed and it was just me and ‘Macca’ [caddy Sean McDonagh] having a laugh, a Saturday afternoon stroll on the golf course,” Sullivan said after his second European Tour title.

There were a handful of golfers in contention in the final round, with the lead changing hands several times, but the most serious challenges came from fellow Englishmen Anthony Wall and David Howell.

But both made a couple of crucial errors in the closing holes.

Wall bogeyed 15 after his approach slid off the green into the reeds surrounding the dam in front of the putting surface, while his drive on the final hole went under the trees on the left, forcing him to settle for par when he really needed at least a birdie to put pressure on Sullivan.

Howell sent his drive into the water on 14 which led to bogey, and then missed a crucial five-foot birdie putt on 15.

Sullivan himself was holding a tenuous one-shot lead when he found the water with his approach shot on the par-four 11th, but a brilliant 25-foot pressure putt saw him limit the damage to just a bogey.

The man from the English midlands then closed out a thrilling win with a top-class finish, birdies on 15 and 18 sealing victory.

There was a tense moment on 18 when he left his eagle putt eight feet short of the hole and was left with a tricky, and crucial, birdie putt.

“I knew if I got a birdie on the last I’d have a really good chance of winning, but I left myself with a bit more than I would have liked. But I did not believe my second win would come so quickly, I thought it was unbelievable to win the SA Open but this is even better,” a beaming Sullivan said.

Overnight leader Wallie Coetsee missed several birdie putts as he shot a one-under-par 71 and finished in the bunch of runners-up on 15-under – Wall, Howell, Ireland’s Kevin Phelan and fellow South African Jaco van Zyl.

The iron play of Coetsee was just not sharp enough to get him closer to the flags, and he also missed out on one of the entries to the Open Championship which went to Sullivan, Wall and Howell after the tie-breaker of world golf ranking had been applied.

“I’ve never played in a major championship before, so obviously that’s massive. It will also be nice to put a stop to the stick of my manager and caddy, who have both played in majors, and it’s at St Andrew’s, the home of golf, on top of that,” Sullivan said.

One of the biggest smiles in golf is only getting bigger.

 

A dream come true for Morkel … & a timely reminder for pigeon-holers 0

Posted on August 13, 2015 by Ken

 

Albie Morkel’s top-class century to win the Momentum One-Day Cup final for the Unlimited Titans was not only a dream come true for the all-rounder but also a strong reminder to coaches that being a brilliant finisher does not mean a batsman should be consigned to a role only in the closing overs of a limited-overs match.

Morkel came to the crease in the final at Newlands with the Titans in trouble on 60 for four chasing 286, but he and Dean Elgar, who also scored a century, shared a record-breaking partnership of 195 off 189 balls to set up a phenomenal victory which the veteran finished off in style with a magnificent 134 not out off 103 balls.

“It was a big day in my life, I was quite emotional but I kept it deep inside on the field. Coach Rob Walter and I had discussed at the start of the season what’s left for me in my career and I reset my goals. One of them was to score a 50-over century and another was to be man of the match in a final.

“Batting at six or seven, you don’t often get the opportunity to score a hundred, it has to be quick, but to do it in a final and to be man of the match, both of them together was really special, a dream come true. I scratched around a bit at the beginning, but then something clicked and I just seemed to be in the zone, my senses all became so clear and I was seeing the ball really well,” Morkel told The Citizen on Monday.

The left-hander’s innings was similar to that of David Miller’s in South Africa’s World Cup opener against Zimbabwe and Morkel said he hoped these performances helped convince coaches to give so-called power-hitters a greater piece of the action.

“With the new batting powerplay and only four fielders allowed out at the end, coaches tend to keep key batsmen back for that but I’ve never understood it because as a batsman you like to get in and you need the opportunity to do that. Your success rate drops when you have less time at the crease and David Miller showed what can be done when you give a batsman enough time and don’t keep him back.

“Both David and I came in in a situation where the team was in big trouble, but it gives you the luxury to just go in and bat. I knew I must just not get out, I must be there at the end and then you can really cash in,” Morkel said.

The 33-year-old also showed the value of his experience in a Titans side full of youngsters and Morkel said he is determined to return the franchise to the heights of the mid-to-late 2000s, when they won seven domestic trophies.

“The Titans needed that win because we’ve had a seesaw season and it was even more important for the changeroom because obviously they will now believe they can win more trophies. I still want to play my best cricket, in the past I made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on getting into the national team. My focus now is on getting myself back to my best form and winning games for the Titans. That’s where the enjoyment comes, in that changeroom environment.

“At this stage, I’m playing the role of a senior, there are lots of young guys coming through and they need a lot of help. I often chat with David Wiese and the young bowlers,” Morkel said.

 

 

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