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Ken Borland



Coetzee & Van Zyl on top as Millvale ‘torment’ ends 0

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Ken

 

George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl are at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final, but both are relieved that their torment on the beautiful but treacherous Millvale course is now over as the elite 30-man field relocates to Sun City for the last two rounds on the Lost City course.

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, alone in front and projected to finish first in the Chase to the Investec Cup final standings, which would win him the bonus pool prize of a cool R3.5 million.

Van Zyl, after shooting 73 on the first day, produced Friday’s best round, a five-under-par 67 that lifted him to four-under overall, two shots behind Coetzee.

Both their rounds featured just one bogey, a six on the par-five sixth for Van Zyl and for Coetzee on the seventh, a remarkable effort on a course as tough as Millvale with its slick greens, plenty of water and a tricky wind.

“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with 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.

“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, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, said.

“I survived – it was another tough day,” Coetzee said. “I didn’t play as well today, but I scrambled and made pars. 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.”

The Millvale course is hard enough without bad luck playing a part, but Van Zyl’s bogey on six came when a bee landed on his ball on his downswing and he put his second into the water, while Schwartzel, the co-leader after the first round, woke up with a painful shoulder and slipped down the leaderboard after shooting a 74.

It was a good effort by Schwartzel considering every shot had him in pain, but the 2011 Masters champion said he will be forced to withdraw on Saturday if anti-inflammatories can’t get the swelling down.

Schwartzel is four behind Coetzee, alongside Justin Harding, who has produced two sub-par rounds of 71 practically out of nowhere given his recent form.

Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo, all long-time Sunshine Tour pros, are all on one-under-par and in a position to shake up the leaderboard over the weekend.

*Defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, South Africa’s highest-ranked women’s golfer, fired a three-under-par 68 to lead the Investec Cup for Ladies by three strokes over Monique Smit after the first round.

 

 

Schwartzel & Coetzee lead after daunting day at Millvale 0

Posted on February 05, 2016 by Ken

 

Millvale Private Retreat is a little-known championship course hidden away in the fertile bushveld between the Magaliesburg and Pilanesberg ranges and there is very limited access for golfers, which is maybe not such a bad thing considering how darn difficult it was to play on the opening day of the Chase to the Investec Cup final on Thursday.

With slick greens, numerous bunkers and a gusting, awkward wind, Millvale put the top 30 golfers on the Sunshine Tour to the test and it was no surprise the two who came out tops were class performers in Charl Schwartzel and George Coetzee.

They both shot four-under-par 68s and were three shots ahead of Justin Harding and Shaun Norris, the only other golfers to break par.

Schwartzel is trying to groove his swing ahead of the Masters, which starts at Augusta on April 9, and he seems to be making rapid progress in that regard, as well as cracking the code for how to succeed at Millvale.

“For a while now I’ve been working out my swing and it’s getting better and better. It’s a matter of trusting it out on the course, because it doesn’t matter on the range. So today was a good round in hard conditions, it was challenging and anything under par was good,” Schwartzel said.

In terms of Masters preparation, the greens were also to Schwartzel’s liking, although he said Augusta would ask even more of his putter.

“The greens definitely had speed and they’re up with the best I’ve seen here. You don’t often get greens at this speed in South Africa and I was very pleased to see that. We’re not used to having that in South Africa and when I played Lost City on Tuesday, the greens there were very slow, so I hope they speed them up for our two rounds there on Saturday and Sunday.

“But today was more than good enough practice for Augusta, although the greens there have even more slope and the ball just doesn’t stop,” Schwartzel said.

While Schwartzel was fairly consistent with six birdies and just two dropped shots, Coetzee had a round which he described as “all over the show” – two bogeys, an eagle, six birdies and a double-bogey were all crammed into his wild round in the Limpopo River watershed.

“I don’t know how I shot four-under because my game was all over the show. This is not the easiest course to play in the wind and the speed of the greens was very fast and the placement of the pins meant you had to really plot your way around the course, it was hard work,” Coetzee said.

A run of eagle and four successive birdies from the par-five seventh hole was key to Coetzee’s success and, being sponsored by Investec, the owners of Millvale, he admitted some local knowledge really helped.

“The eagle on seven was a bit of local knowledge because I know there is a small gap on the left and you’re able to take it on with driver. For my second I hit a seven-iron to three feet,” Coetzee said.

http://citizen.co.za/347133/schwartzel-coetzee-came-out-tops/

Porteous keeps the confidence but loses the arrogance … and wins 0

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Haydn Porteous said his mother Belinda always told him to sound confident but not be arrogant, and the 21-year-old heeded her advice both on and off the course, leading to a life-changing victory in the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Sunday.

Porteous claimed his maiden European Tour victory as he shot a rock-solid 69 on the final day to beat Zander Lombard, also a former South African amateur star, by two strokes. The measure of how well he played was that he hit all 18 greens in regulation, an astonishing achievement, but a cold putter made life difficult for Porteous as he only collected three birdies.

Coming a week after Brandon Stone’s triumph at the South African Open, Porteous’s victory just reinforced the feeling that the new generation of local golf stars has arrived.

But the Johannesburg-born golfer acknowledged that Stone’s win had also been the catalyst for him to take a good look at how he was approaching his golf.

“My mother always says that I must sound confident but not be arrogant, and there is a hint of arrogance in me. I needed to get into the right frame of mind, I knew I could practise more and gym harder. If you know you’re doing the right things, then your confidence increases.

“Brandon’s win gave me a big kick in the arse, he’s been doing all the right things, while I was not. It was very motivational and inspirational to see him win and I knew I couldn’t carry on the way I was. I definitely played more conservatively this week and I had a good game plan, just aiming for the middle of the green all the time,” Porteous said.

While golfers of lesser composure would have been tearing their hair out after all those missed putts, Stone and Lombard’s 2012 Eisenhower Trophy team-mate remained philosophical.

“I hit the ball incredibly all day, I missed a few fairways but not by much, and I really found my groove with my irons, especially on the back nine where I really flushed them. But every day is different and I putted well in the third round. Maybe I didn’t see the lines today, maybe I was reading too much into them, but 69 is not a terrible score,” Porteous said.

Lombard had a two-shot lead after six holes after two birdies, but a frustrating three-putt on the ninth and two further bogeys on the 11th and 14th holes saw him slip back. In the end, he had to birdie the last to sneak into second on 16-under and qualify, alongside Porteous, for the Open Championship, by a hair’s breadth, the day before he turns 21.

Englishman Anthony Wall claimed the third qualifying spot for the Open by virtue of his superior world ranking, after a frustrating level-par 72 left him in third place on 15-under tied with Sweden’s Bjorn Akesson, South African Justin Walters and Daniel Im of America.

 

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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