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Ken Borland

Titans grab the Knights’ banker & raid the Dolphins 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken


The Titans will announce three new signings for their champion outfit on Friday as they have lured one of the most consistent bowlers in franchise cricket and two young batsmen just looking for half-a-chance to reach their potential to Centurion.

Malusi Siboto, a stalwart of the Knights attack with 98 wickets in 39 matches at an average of 31 in Sunfoil Series cricket, is the bowler who will be joining the Titans, while Jonathan Vandiar and Daniel Sincuba, both from the Dolphins, are the batsmen moving to Centurion.

Vandiar was considered one of the brightest young batting talents in the country when he played for the Highveld Lions as an U19 star, before joining the Dolphins in the 2012/13 season. But the left-hander has never really fulfilled his talent, something Titans coach Rob Walter wants to change.

“Everyone knows he has talent and we’d like to help him realise that. If you go back a few years at the Lions, he was close to national honours and then just got lost a bit. He’s certainly got potential and I believe he can thrive in our environment,” Walter told The Citizen.

Sincuba impressed the Titans when he scored 41 against them last season in Durban, but the 23-year-old has only played sporadically for the Dolphins since then. He will join the Titans as the back-up wicketkeeper to Heinrich Klaasen, with Mangaliso Mosehle having joined the Lions.

“We wanted a young batsman that we could really grow his game, we’re strong enough in terms of senior batsmen and we’d like to invest our energy in a young cricketer. He’s a top-order batsman and it’s hugely important that we have depth there. The key is to create competition and, most importantly, give us different options when we need to change the balance of the side and play horses-for-courses,” Walter said.

The 28-year-old Siboto has been the banker of the Knights attack and took 28 Sunfoil Series wickets at an average of just 20 this season, as well as being the leading wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup and matching West Indian team-mate Andre Russell’s excellent figures in the RamSlam T20 Challenge. The left-hand batsman is also very capable with the willow and will lengthen the Titans’ tail.

“He can perform in all three formats, he’s a really solid and consistent bowler and we needed some seniority in our attack to help bring the young bowlers through. He brings experience and has been a very successful bowler with the Knights,” Walter said.

The signing of Siboto does compensate for the loss of fast bowler Marchant de Lange to the Knights.

“He’s a very different bowler to Marchant but we still have Rowan Richards, the spin options are still there, David Wiese and Chris Morris will play if they’re not with the national side and these guys can combine with our youth,” Walter said.

The other big departure from the Titans is batsman Theunis de Bruyn, but Aiden Markram, the U19 World Cup-winning captain, has joined the contracted list in his place.

Titans contracted players: Henry Davids, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Chris Morris, Heino Kuhn, Daniel Sincuba, Malusi Siboto, Jonathan Vandiar, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Grant Thomson, Lungi Ngidi, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Rowan Richards, Grant Mokoena, Ethy Mbhalati.

SA Open champ Sullivan comes to Joburg eyeing the top-50 & the majors 0

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Ken


South African Open champion Andy Sullivan returns to Johannesburg and the Joburg Open starting today doorstepping the top-50 in the world and a ticket to the major championships, which means he is confident he can contend at the co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour/European Tour event at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

“Finishing fifth here last year and then winning the SA Open at Glendower down the road in December makes it nice to come back. I’m keen to have a crack at it and I’m full of confidence. I’m swinging it quite well after a two-week break, so I’m looking forward to this week.

“I’ve never played a major championship. To play the Open in your own country would be absolutely fantastic. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on it, because I think I’ve done that in the past and underperformed. For me, it’s about going out there and trying to enjoy myself,” Sullivan said on Wednesday.

The 73rd-ranked Sullivan is the highest-ranked golfer in the field, but the local challenge will be a strong one with the Joburg Open title being won by a South African six times, including the last five years consecutively, in the eight-year history of the event.

The defending champion, George Coetzee, will bring his intimate knowledge of the course and is eager to mount a strong defence of his maiden European Tour crown, while Richard Sterne, bidding to become the first golfer to win three Joburg Opens, and Thomas Aiken are also amongst the favourites.

“Every week I’m posting one or two good numbers, it’s just a matter of putting four together. Hopefully being comfortable with the course will put me in good stead for this week,” Coetzee said.

Aiken is out to register his fourth European Tour win, but he acknowledges that there are a host of extremely talented South African golfers looking to use the Joburg Open as a stepping stone.

“There is a big field this week and a lot of youngsters, and that’s really what this tournament was made to be. It aims to give a lot of people the chance to play a European Tour event.

“Funnily enough, the more people you have, the lower the cuts get. It’s renowned here that the cut is low, and it shows that everyone out there can play. When you have more than 200 players, there will be 100 that play well, so the margins are very small. That’s the beauty of the game, you don’t see the same guy winning every week. That’s the nature of it. It would be boring if the same guy won every week, although I’d love to be the person who does that!” Aiken said.

It’s been a very dry February in Johannesburg, so the 210 golfers teeing off today will have an office that will provide plenty of run, making an already fairly short course even shorter. But those Royal Johannesburg and Kensington greens are as small as ever.


Sterne shining again where it all began for him 0

Posted on May 28, 2013 by Ken


Richard Sterne was the 2008 Joburg Open champion and seemed on the brink of becoming one of South Africa’s great young golfers as he claimed three co-sanctioned titles that year.

But a debilitating back problem then struck and he could play just 10 events in 2010 and 2011, eventually opting for surgery. The 31-year-old eventually returned to full-time play on the European Tour in the second half of 2012 and showed he was back to his best last weekend when he finished second in the Dubai Desert Classic.

Sterne continued in that vein of form on Thursday in the first round of the Joburg Open as he shot an eight-under-par 63 on the par-71 West Course to claim a share of the lead with German Maximilian Kieffer.

“On the West Course you’ve got to put a good score together and I did that today. Some days it feels good and everything just kind of happens. Golf is strange – you’ve got to hit the right kind of shots at the right time. I’ve been minimising the mistakes and I hit 17 greens [in regulation] today, so I was never really in any trouble at all,” Sterne said.

Durban’s Bryce Easton nearly joined the leaders despite playing the tougher East Course as he fired a brilliant seven-under-par 65 on the par-72 layout.

Eight golfers were tied for fourth on six-under-par, with South Africans Jake Redman, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Allan Versfeld and Tyrone Ferreira the happiest of that bunch as they played the East Course.

Charl Schwartzel, the 2010 and 2011 champion, will also feel that he has more birdies stored up for later as he shot a solid 68 on the East Course, collecting five birdies, three on the front nine and two on the back, and just dropping a single shot, on the par-four ninth.

George Coetzee bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes on the West Course, but also picked up six birdies on the West Course and joined Schwartzel in the tie for 25th.

Defending champion Branden Grace had an off-day with the putter and struggled to a par-72 on the East Course. He followed six straight pars with a bogey on the seventh and later double-bogeyed the lengthy par-four 11th, offsetting the benefits of three birdies.

Later in the day, Norway’s Espen Kofstad and Englishman Ross McGowan made strong pushes for the lead, but both finished the first round on five-under-par, trailing Sterne and Kieffer by three.

Kofstad, the 2012 Challenge Tour order of merit winner, saw his round wrecked on the 18th hole of the West Course, where he erred off the tee and then compounded the problem by putting poorly to end his round with a triple-bogey seven.

McGowan ran aground on the 16th and 17th holes of the East Course, bogeying both of them.

But Easton’s round, notwithstanding the precision golf played by Sterne, was the best of the day, highlighted by a hole-in-one on the 167-metre par-three 12th hole.

“I missed a few fairways so I still need to figure out the driver a bit, I have some work to do this afternoon. But it’s nice to have a round where you don’t hit the ball so well but you still score well.

“Golf’s a funny game, sometimes you hit the ball flush and you don’t score so well,” Easton said.

Re that ace: Easton hit a seven-iron and admitted the first hole-in-one of his career took some time to digest.

“It’s my first hole-in-one and you obviously don’t think about it when you’re playing the hole. But then the ball goes in and it takes you a couple of seconds to realise it’s disappeared. It was an awesome feeling,” he said.

Easton’s reward was a million bonus points from the Hilton Hotel, sponsored by Investec, which translates to about R100,000 worth of free accommodation.

American Peter Uihlein, lauded as the world’s number one amateur in 2010 but with just over €10,000 in prize money as a professional, is also right in the thick of things on six-under.

“I am happy. It’s always good to play the first round well and get off to a good start on the West Course in particular, because I’ve been told the low scores come out on that course,” Uihlein said. “I understand that you have to be very patient in this game and not try to force it or get discouraged if you don’t make it right away. I’m 23, I’m still pretty young and I’m enjoying it so far.”

Fisher tore through the first six holes of the East Course in four-under, despite battling nerves, but then dropped shots at the par-four seventh and the malicious par-four 10th to sandwich a birdie at eight.

Although Fisher won the Sunshine Tour’s Players’ Player of the Year award this week, he said he still felt like the knives were out for him due to the pressure of expectation now on him.

One man who is probably playing with little expectation is Kieffer, who finished 14th in last year’s second tier Challenge Tour and is a rookie on the European Tour.

“The West Course is a bit easier from the tee and there are a couple more birdie opportunities. My secret today was my putting and I was very good on the front nine and just missed one putt on 18.

“But it’s a new world for me, I am still trying to prove myself and I don’t really know what to expect,” Kieffer said.

That probably applies to the tournament as a whole, with a clearer picture of the contenders expected to emerge on Friday when the golfers swop courses and the cut is made.

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