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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.

 

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).

 

 

 

Schwartzel pictures Glendower favourably despite agony there 0

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Ken

 

When Charl Schwartzel pictures Glendower Golf Club he does not see the agony of his final round collapse and playoff defeat against Andy Sullivan in the South African Open in January this year or his surrender of the lead in the previous edition of the second-oldest national open.

He sees a course he likes and has played well on, a course that suits his strategic approach to golf.

“I’ve finished second a few times in the South African Open and the title evaded me the last two years here, but Glendower is a course that suits me well and I don’t look at it as two disappointments here. I’m excited that I can come back to a place where I know I came close in the past, I have another opportunity on a course that has treated me well.

“Two years in a row I’ve had chances to win but there are a lot of good players out there and I know the more times I contend, I will eventually break through. But it’s a positive that I’ve come close at Glendower and I’ll come here in early January and prepare well. You have to play cleverly here, think your way around, it requires a lot of strategy and thinking, which is right down my alley,” Schwartzel said at Glendower on Wednesday when the classic old course was announced as the South African Open venue for the third straight year. The 2016 tournament will be from January 7-10.

Schwartzel squandered four shots in the last five holes of the 2015 SA Open and then lost on the first hole of the playoff to Sullivan. The previous Glendower SA Open saw Schwartzel leading by three shots four holes into the final round, before he faded to a 71 and finished three behind winner Morten Orum Madsen.

But the local favourite says he is not chained to the past and is looking forward to starting a fresh year at Glendower in the second week of 2016.

“I’ll have a good break now, I’m not playing any tournaments in December so it will be a nice long break and I feel that I need it. The physical factors are there, my long game is better than ever, but I need to build my confidence back up because you need confidence to win,” Schwartzel said.

The 31-year-old said he hopes the South African Open will continue to be the sort of tournament fathers tell their children about when they’re sitting on their knee, and he was delighted with the announcement of BMW as the new title sponsors.

“It’s even better news that BMW are now involved. When you see the passion of Ernie Els [tournament host] to play in it, it’s inspiring for the future generations. I hope guys like Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace feel the same as me, because I’m going to keep coming back and give it my all. I hope it works out this time, but if it doesn’t, I’ll try again,” Schwartzel said.

With South African golfers desperate to avoid a hat-trick of overseas winners, the fur is sure to fly at Glendower in January, especially if rumours of some huge foreign names coming to play turn out to be true.

 

Sullivan wins playoff after Schwartzel’s dream turns into a nightmare 0

Posted on March 22, 2015 by Ken

When Charl Schwartzel walked off the 13th green at Glendower Golf Club on Sunday after his second successive birdie, he was enjoying a four-shot lead in the South African Open, his dream of a first national open title looking a near-certainty.

But  a disastrous finish that saw Schwartzel bogey both the par-threes coming in and rack up a double-bogey at 16 meant he was embroiled in a playoff with Andy Sullivan, and when the Englishman fashioned a superb approach shot from the rough and then sank a pressure 12-foot winning putt on the 18th, the local favourite’s dream had become a nightmare.

Sullivan admitted afterwards that he was just about to leave Glendower to head for the airport and his flight to Dubai when Schwartzel began unravelling, his final-round 74 leaving him on 11-under for the tournament.

“I was nearly ready to go and I didn’t see Charl do what he did. I was reflecting on the week and thinking ‘yeah, second is good for the first tournament of the year’, but the unbelievable happened,” Sullivan said.

He went to warm-up again on the driving range, but his tee-shot in the playoff was way left and in trouble in the rough, behind the low branches of a tree. Schwartzel, however, had been ropey all day off the tee and with his irons, and he had earlier sent his playoff drive way right, even further from the fairway than Sullivan’s.

The 28-year-old from the English midlands town of Nuneaton produced a superb stroke, setting up his maiden European Tour win, as he left his second a mere 12 feet from the hole.

“I thought I was in trouble because to miss the fairway right is better on that hole, it’s a lot clearer. But I thought ‘it’s all about what I can do’ and I didn’t allow Charl’s position to have any influence on what I did.

“I only had 131 metres to the pin, but I had low branches in front of me so I had to hit a low nine-iron to keep under those. I was aiming at the grandstand and trying to cut it back, and I hit it perfectly. I thought I’d still be 20 feet from the flag, but instead I was 12 feet and pin-high,” Sullivan said.

He said it was “without a doubt” one of the best shots he has ever played, and he made it count by ramming in the putt for birdie and becoming the first English winner of the SA Open since Tommy Horton in 1970.

The man who famously won a trip into space for a hole-in-one at the KLM Open last September said he would be celebrating and “milking it for all its worth” till he was seeing space.

The enormity of his achievement, coming to the lairs of Schwartzel, Els and Grace and claiming their title, was starting to sink in for Sullivan when he spoke to the media about an hour after sinking the winning putt.

“South Africans are so good on their home turf, to beat guys like Charl, Branden and Ernie here is just unbelievable. I’ve dreamt about winning a tournament since I was a little boy and what a championship, one of the oldest in golf and with all that history, to win. To think that my name will be on that trophy forever … “

Life is great on and off the course for Sullivan, who celebrated the birth of his daughter Ruby in late 2013 and has now converted a promising 2014 season into a maiden European Tour title.

Sullivan started the final round eight behind Schwartzel and knew he had to go low to have any chance. But he was only one-under through the front nine, before a stellar four-under-par back nine, including an eagle on the short par-four 12th catapulted him into contention.

He chipped in on 12 and was able to make birdies on the par-four 10th and 16th holes to earn himself R2.2 million.

Fellow Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick began the day five off the lead in second place, but the young rookie faded to a 73 on Sunday, but will still cart off just over R400 000 for his impressive efforts.

 http://citizen.co.za/305273/schwartzel-sullivan-showdown/

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