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Ken Borland



Ahlers wins as 3rd visit to water not redeemable for Van Zyl 0

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Ken

A third visit to the water on the 18th hole in the playoff was not redeemable for Jaco van Zyl as Jaco Ahlers clinched the Chase to the Investec Cup final and won the lucrative R3.5 million bonus pool for the overall standings leader as well.

Van Zyl and Ahlers both shot brilliant 66s on the final day to finish on nine-under-par, one stroke ahead of Justin Harding and overnight leader George Coetzee, and had to go down the 18th three more times in the playoff before Ahlers sank a six-foot putt for par to take the biggest win of his career.

On the second playoff hole, Van Zyl staged a remarkable recovery to make par after his drive went in the water and his third shot, after dropping, found the hazard in front of the green. But an excellent chip enabled him to save par, which Ahlers could not beat as he sent his drive way left into a waste bunker and he had to lay up.

But Van Zyl astonishingly sent his third playoff drive into the same watery grave and this time his third also landed up in the water in front of the green.

Ahlers had also found the water off the tee but, hitting his third after Van Zyl’s errant approach, he took the conservative route and laid up in front of the green, before chipping on and leaving himself with a testing little six-footer for the win.

The R3.5 million bonus pool prize, plus R163 400 for winning the final, is by far the biggest paycheque ever for Ahlers, but the 32-year-old who plays out of Koro Creek Golf Estate, said he was more motivated for his third Sunshine Tour title than for the money.

“It’s amazing to win but I really haven’t had much time to think about it. I just wanted to win, I wasn’t thinking about the money, but we have just bought a house so it will come in handy,” Ahlers, a father of two, said.

It’s been a life-changing four months for Ahlers as his victory in the Cape Town Open in November earned him a place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where he finished in a tie for 21st and took home R1.3 million. That win in the Mother City also came in a playoff.

“I was pretty calm today. Four months ago I won a four-hole playoff to win the Cape Town Open and my first win in 2009 also came in a playoff, so that gave me confidence,” Ahlers said.

The soon-to-be George resident started the day four strokes behind Coetzee, but cashed in on a hot putter, with birdies on the third, fifth and seventh holes, as well as chipping in for eagle from the bunker on the par-five fourth.

Coetzee, meanwhile, was having an average day, having dropped a shot on the par-three fourth when he found the bunker, but birdies on the two par-fives on the front nine (4th & 7th) and another on the par-four 14th meant he was still hanging on to a share of the lead as he reached the penultimate hole.

But his drive on the tricky 450-metre par-four 17th, the toughest hole on the final day, was awful, so far left that it appeared to be heading into the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Coetzee miraculously found his ball in the thick bushveld, but it was totally unplayable, so he had to reload and play three off the tee, leading to a double-bogey.

The 28-year-old did make a remarkable birdie on the last, after hitting a wood out of the waste bunker just too far and running out of green, into the water behind, but it was not enough to keep his title hopes alive.

Van Zyl, meanwhile, birdied four of the last five holes to post nine-under as the clubhouse lead and, once Ahlers found the bunker off the tee on 17 to drop a shot and then could only par 18 after his approach went into the bunker behind the green, it was all about the two Jacos as they went into the playoff.

It was not all smooth sailing for Ahlers, but he made the clutch putts that mattered.

*In the Investec Cup for Ladies, Lee-Anne Pace continued her all-conquering run through the series, winning the final by eight strokes.

http://citizen.co.za/349066/ahlers-wins-as-van-zyl-perishes-in-the-water/

Koro Creek’s Ahlers takes the Investec bonus pool 0

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Ken

 

The members of Koro Creek Golf Estate in Modimolle are probably still celebrating after their representative, Jaco Ahlers, claimed the second-biggest paycheque on the Sunshine Tour by winning the Chase to the Investec Cup final at the Lost City on Sunday, thereby winning the R3.5 million bonus pool for topping the standings at the end of the season-long competition.

While Ahlers was celebrating the best day of his golfing career, there was bitter disappointment for Jaco van Zyl, who lost in a playoff that was only decided on the third trip down the 18th hole, and for overnight leader George Coetzee, who bombed out of contention with a double-bogey on the 17th.

Playoffs are nervewracking affairs at the best of times and Van Zyl recovered magnificently on their second trip down the 18th after putting his drive into the water down the right-hand side of the fairway and then leaving his third in the hazard in front of the green. But he did not get lucky a second time when his third playoff drive went in the same spot and his third shot, after dropping, was in the water in front of the green.

Ahlers, having slotted a pair of five-foot putts to halve the first two playoff holes, calmly slotted a six-footer for par to claim the spoils and continue his excellent record in playoffs.

“I was pretty calm. Three months ago I won a four-hole playoff to win the Cape Town Open and my first win in 2009 also came in a playoff, so that gave me confidence. It’s amazing to win and I still haven’t had time to think about it, really. I just wanted to win, I wasn’t thinking about the money, but we have just bought a house so it will help,” Ahlers said.

Although Van Zyl was not able to clinch the deal, he was philosophical about the loss, saying the 18th was not the sort of hole that suited his game and all he could think about was ‘do not hit the ball right into the water’.

The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner played superbly, however, just to make the playoff with four birdies in the last five holes.

Ahlers matched Van Zyl, an eagle on the fourth, with two birdies either side of it, and three birdies in a row from the 11th laying the foundation for his 66.

Coetzee still had a share of the lead after his third birdie of his round on the par-four 14th, but he was not able to hang on to it as a wretched drive on the 17th, which was so far left it was almost in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, led to a double-bogey.

Even a remarkable birdie on the 18th was not enough. His drive was far left in the waste bunker and a well-struck wood from there just ran out of green and went into the water. Coetzee dropped and then sank his fourth from the fringe.

*Lee-Anne Pace was not challenged over the three days of the Investec Cup for Ladies and strolled to an eight-stroke victory on Sunday, also winning the bonus pool for the second year in succession.

Coetzee struggles but still leads Investec Cup 0

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Ken

George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl were the final two-ball in the third round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final at the Lost City on Saturday, but both had their problems to leave the race for the massive bonus pool wide open in the last tournament of the Sunshine Tour’s lucrative summer swing.

Coetzee, who led Van Zyl by two shots after the second round, battled to a one-under 71 and his lead is still two shots. But Van Zyl is no longer second, having struggled to a one-over 73 that saw him drop back to three-under for the tournament, four behind Coetzee and in a tie for fourth with Jaco Ahlers (68), Tjaart van der Walt (69) and Chris Swanepoel (69).

Charl Schwartzel, whose shoulder gave him no obvious problems on Saturday, picked up three birdies on the back nine to shoot 70 and climb into third place on four-under.

But the round of the day came from Jbe’ Kruger, who blazed around Sun City’s lesser-known but tremendous course in just 65 strokes to jump to five-under overall, in second place just two strokes behind Coetzee.

The diminutive Kruger and the burly Ahlers made their moves early, but their rounds were still played in a blustery wind as a storm rumbled nearby but missed the Sun City complex.

Kruger made an almost-immediate impression with a superb string of five successive birdies from the third hole, needing just 10 putts on the front nine as he went out in 31. He picked up another birdie on the tricky par-four 14th, before birdies on 16 and 18 sandwiched his only bogey, on the par-four 17th.

Ahlers’ birdies came in much smaller families, with a pair on eight and nine and another pair on the last two rounds, and he did not drop a shot in a fine round.

The devout Kruger was remarkably honest about his round.

“I played decent golf but not as well as my score suggests. The good Lord helped me with my putts because I didn’t hit the ball that well but I made every putt from inside 20 feet,” Kruger said.

Coetzee was disappointed with his round, saying his driver and long irons are going to have to sharpen up if he is to win the tournament and the R3.5 million prize that would come his way for topping the final Chase to the Investec Cup standings.

“I’m not that pleased with my round, my driver wasn’t so good today, I struggled with it so I tried to hit a few more long irons, but it just wasn’t there today. Fortunately my short game was pretty good, but my long game is going to have to sharpen up,” Coetzee said.

The 11th and the 18th are the two par-fives on the back nine and both are well-bunkered. But Coetzee bogeyed both with errant tee-shots that went into the thick bush on the 11th and into the reed-lined water hazard on the last.

On the 11th he chipped out sideways after taking a drop, scuffed his fourth just short of the grassy swale that cuts across the fairway and then hit a magnificent fifth shot to a couple of feet from the hole, limiting the damage to a bogey.

“I topped my three-wood  on the 11th and I was very happy to just minimise the damage. I had pretty much accepted a seven there,” Coetzee said.

On 18 he also had to take a drop after a wayward drive, but this time a wonderful long-iron sent his third on to the fringe of the green, 35 feet from the flag. Unfortunately Coetzee sent his first, downhill putt 10 feet past the hole and was not able to sink the return effort, once again suffering a bogey.

“On the front nine I had one or two birdie opportunities that I missed and I made a couple of mistakes that I was able to save par from, so I guess those cancel each other out and I had nine pars going out. But then I had a nice birdie on 10 and I thought ‘now I can get going’, but that momentum came to a stop pretty quickly. At least I did not go backwards though … “ Coetzee said.

And it was not all bad for the 28-year-old as he picked up birdies on the par-three 13th and the par-four 16th.

On the 180-metre 13th, Coetzee was not swayed by the other golfers using seven-iron and he showed his skill by cutting a punched six-iron to five feet from the flag.

In terms of the overall standings, Coetzee is also in first place now, while Kruger and Schwartzel are not eligible for the bonus pool prize because their rankings coming into the final were too low.

Ahlers is poised to strike in fourth place overall, while Van Zyl is going to have to improve on the 67 he shot in the second round at Millvale to improve on his current fifth place.

Jacques Blaauw is on level-par for the tournament and will need to repeat the 61 he shot on the final day of the Tshwane Open last weekend to be sure of winning the bonus pool because he is second in the standings at present.

Trevor Fisher Junior, who led the standings coming into the final, is on five-over in 18th place for the tournament, but is currently third in the overall rankings, so a top-10 finish could see the R3.5 million going into his pocket for the second successive year.

http://citizen.co.za/348462/chase-to-the-investec-cup-final-3rd-round/

Coetzee scrambles but remains in front 0

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Ken

 

George Coetzee said he felt like he was either making pars or scrambling for them in the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final at Millvale Private Retreat near Koster, outside Rustenburg, on Friday, but he nevertheless still reached the halfway mark of the elite 30-man tournament with a two-stroke lead.

Coetzee, who shared the overnight lead with Charl Schwartzel, shot a two-under-par 70 on Friday to go to six-under for the tournament.

Jaco van Zyl, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, produced the best round of the tournament – a five-under-par 67 – to leap up the leaderboard to second on four-under.

Schwartzel is tied with Justin Harding four strokes back on two-under-par, but there is some doubt as to whether South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer will be able to complete the tournament due to a swollen and painful shoulder.

Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo are also all still in contention on one-under-par.

“I survived – it was another tough day. I didn’t play as well today, I was just making pars and scrambling. I drove the ball better yesterday, but I putted better today. I’m where I want to be, but there’s still a lot of golf to play,” Coetzee said.

Any time you go round the 6839-metre Millvale course with just one dropped shot is a remarkable effort given the slick greens, the amount of water all over the course and the tricky pin-positions, but that is what Coetzee and Van Zyl managed, despite the tricky wind that made the first round so tough still being around.

Van Zyl’s bogey came on the par-five sixth and it was thanks to some unwanted company at the most unfortunate time.

“On six I hit a good tee-shot, I was in the middle of the fairway with the perfect yardage into the green. But then on my downswing, a bee landed on my ball and I hit it straight right into the water, leading to bogey,” Van Zyl explained.

Coetzee’s bogey on the par-five seventh was associated with the wind as he misjudged his club selection and sent his approach over the green.

Coetzee established his lead with birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, while Van Zyl rebounded superbly from his bogey with three birdies in four holes from the eighth, and then sealed a brilliant 67 with another birdie on the 14th.

Van Zyl said the secret to his success was staying patient and hanging in there on a tough course.

“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with the firm greens, the flags tucked away and a lot of water. If you start on the 10th then you have seven really tough holes on the trot from the 15th to the third and you just try for level-par,” the 36-year-old said.

The tournament now moves to the Lost City course at Sun City for the last two rounds, and Van Zyl said the going would be easier.

“It should be a bit easier at Lost City on Saturday and Sunday, there’s a bit more scoring opportunities. I’m hitting the ball well, so I look forward to that,” Van Zyl said.

http://citizen.co.za/347795/coetzee-reaches-halfway-mark/



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