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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.

 

Otaegui takes advantage of friendly conditions with superb 62 0

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Ken

 

Spaniard Adrian Otaegui took advantage of the friendlier conditions available at the start of the second round of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday, shooting a superb eight-under-par 62 to claim a two-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the co-sanctioned tournament.

Otaegui was in the first three-ball off at 6.40am and he set the tone for his round with birdies on the par-four second and third holes. Five birdies in a row from the eighth saw him surge up the leaderboard and he then made twos at both of the par-threes on the back nine, before bogeying the last to finish on 11-under for the tournament.

“We were first to tee off this morning and the conditions were perfect. I like playing that early and I did really well. I made a lot of birdies and I’m happy with my round. It was a good round from the beginning.

“The greens were perfect, because we opened the course. They were good yesterday, but when you play first the course is in very good condition and you can take advantage,” Otaegui said after his best round on the European Tour.

South African Merrick Bremner is two shots back at nine-under-par after a typically attacking approach brought him a four-under-par 66. He started his round at the 10th hole but was level-par for the day after a bogey on the first, but four birdies would come in his last six holes to leave him alone in second place.

While joint overnight leader Morten Orum Madsen would come undone with two double-bogeys in his first four holes and successive bogeys around the turn, leaving him six shots off the pace on five-under, David Horsey kept himself in strong contention.

The Englishman started on the 10th and put a double-bogey on the fourth behind him as he collected two birdies coming in to finish on eight-under, in a tie for third with South Africans Keith Horne and Trevor Fisher Junior, and Italian Edoardo Molinari.

Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader Andy Sullivan had an icky round of 71 to miss the cut, while it also all went wrong for Lindani Ndwandwe, who posted a promising 68 in the first round before a run of five successive bogeys from the third hole saw him shoot 79 on Friday and also miss the cut.

The in-form Wallie Coetsee had steadily climbed the leaderboard with four birdies as he stood on the 18th tee tied with Bremner on nine-under, but then suffered a major blow as his tee-shot found one of the numerous bunkers on a hole that is usually a par-five but is a par-four in this tournament.

The lapse led to a double-bogey which pushed Coetsee back down to seven-under, in a tie for seventh with fellow South Africans Dean Burmester and George Coetzee.

Conditions were definitely trickier on the second day at Pretoria Country Club, with sunny and warm conditions speeding up the greens and a capricious breeze making club selection tricky.

“I found the wind quite tricky. It was really swirling in completely opposite directions and I got a lot of clubs wrong compared to yesterday. You’re trying to make birdies with wedges in your hand and you’re hitting it five or 10 metres short because the wind changes on you. That can get quite frustrating. I think the wind was the biggest factor in why the scores weren’t that low,” Horne said after his 67.

Otaegui, who learnt the game at the same Real Golf Club de San Sebastian as former Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal, who is also his mentor, said Pretoria Country Club suited him.

“I like these type of courses that are old-style and have trees, so that you have to place the ball. You don’t need to hit it far, but rather put it in a place where you can attack the pins. Even if I missed a few tee shots today I hit some good irons and gave myself birdie chances,” the 22-year-old said.

He may be on top of the leaderboard at the moment, but Otaegui is not getting ahead of himself as he eyes his first top-three finish on the European Tour.

“I’m happy, but we still have a lot of way to go. It’s just 50% of the tournament and so many things can happen. I just have to be patient tomorrow. Let’s see if I’ve learnt something from these last two rounds,” he said.

Molinari, a two-time European Tour winner and a former Ryder Cup player, was slow out of the gate as he started on the 10th, only making his first birdie on the 18th hole. But he also picked up shots on the first and on his last two holes to put himself amongst the leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

Otaegui’s 62 sees the Spaniard into the lead in Tshwane Open 0

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Ken

 

A wonderful round of eight-under-par 62 by Spaniard Adrian Otaegui saw him claim a two-stroke lead after the second round of the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday.

Otaegui, who grew up in the same northern Spanish seaside resort town of Fuenterrabia as Jose-Maria Olazabal and is mentored by the former Ryder Cup captain, went out in the first three-ball of the day and conquered the parklands course with five successive birdies from the eighth hole.

“We were first to tee off this morning and the conditions were perfect. I like playing that early and I did really well, made a lot of birdies and I’m happy with my round. It was a good round from the beginning, the greens were perfect because we opened the course. They were good yesterday, but when you play first the course is in very good condition and you can take advantage.

“I like these type of courses that are old-style and have trees, so that you have to place the ball. You don’t need to hit it far, but rather put in a place where you can attack the pins. Even if I missed a few tee shots today, I hit some good irons and gave myself birdie chances,” Otaegui said after his best round on the European Tour.

Pretoria Country Club was a tougher prospect on the second day, with a gentle but capricious breeze, and first-round leaders Morten Orum Madsen and David Horsey both slipped down the leaderboard.

Englishman Horsey managed to limit the damage with a one-under-par 69 that leaves him on eight-under, three behind Otaegui and one behind second-placed South African Merrick Bremner, who produced a four-under-par 66 to go to nine-under.

Madsen, from Denmark, knew he was in for a tough day as he double-bogeyed the first and fourth holes. He dropped further shots on the ninth and 10th, before cruising to three successive birdies, picking up another shot on 17, but then stalling with a bogey on the last to finish with a two-over 72, six shots off the pace.

Bremner motored to the end of his round, which started on the 10th, with four birdies in his last six holes to reach the halfway stage of the tournament alone in second place, to show that big drivers of the ball can still succeed on the tight course, providing they are accurate.

The best of the afternoon rounds would come from Trevor Fisher Junior, fresh off a breakthrough win in last weekend’s Africa Open. The South African had four successive birdies from the sixth hole to set up a 66 that lifted him to eight-under for the tournament, in a tie for third with Horsey, Keith Horne and Edoardo Molinari.

 

 

 

 

 

Pretoria CC parklands very different to Copperleaf but Fisher still favourite 0

Posted on December 03, 2015 by Ken

 

Pretoria Country Club will differ greatly from the Copperleaf course he won the title on last year, but Englishman Ross Fisher will be the favourite when the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open starts this morning at the parklands course in Waterkloof.

Fisher is the second highest-ranked golfer in the field at 66th in the world rankings, behind compatriot Andy Sullivan (57th), so he has the pedigree; and he certainly has the form judging by his lofty third position in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

The lanky 34-year-old comes to Pretoria fresh off a tie for 23rd in the lucrative WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral, where he finished with three rounds of par or better, so Fisher is in a good frame of mind.

“It’s a very different course, a lot shorter and more fiddly, there’s a lot of positional play off the tees so you’re hitting a lot of irons and not many drivers. I prefer quite long and tight courses because driver is my strength, but it’s been a very good start to the season. Finishing second at Sun City was a great start, I had a decent three weeks in the desert and I’m really pleased I came back well at Doral.

“This course should be easier because the winds were pretty strong and there was a lot of water at Doral, but there’s still trouble out there. But I’ve come up with my own game plan, being strategic is going to play a critical role,” Fisher said yesterday.

The former Ryder Cup player’s namesake, Trevor Fisher Junior, is still recovering from his breakthrough win last weekend at the Africa Open in East London, but the South African is determined to not rest on that triumph.

“I’m still on a high, but it’s been tough with all the calls and messages and with all the excitement I’ve hardly slept. But last week is now in the past and I just want to get out on to the first tee and play. I don’t want to get comfortable, I want to try and win again as soon as possible,” Fisher Junior said.

“If it will take a week or 10 months, I don’t know. There are such small margins in golf,” he said before using his own poor form at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, where he shot 74-69-78-76, two weeks prior to East London, as an illustration.

That will give hope to George Coetzee, who is playing on his home course, but admits he doesn’t know whether he is going “to play well or badly until the first tee on Thursday”.

 

 

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