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Ken Borland

Van Zyl ensures nothing kills his momentum in SA Open 0

Posted on January 08, 2016 by Ken


Jaco van Zyl made sure that neither the heat nor the hidden dangers of Glendower Golf Club killed his momentum as he soared into the first-round lead of the South African Open with a great round of seven-under-par 65 on Thursday.

The 36-year-old South African teed off from the 10th at 7am and started well with a birdie on the beautiful 436-metre par-four, and Van Zyl picked up further shots on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes to reach the turn on four-under. That quickly became seven-under as he birdied the par-four first hole and eagled the second, but then the heat and a blustery wind began to take their toll and Van Zyl dropped a shot on the seventh before regaining it with a birdie on the eighth.

“It was absolutely gorgeous for the first few holes today, there was not a breath of wind, it was nice and cool, so you really needed to capitalise early on. By the time we got to our eighth hole [the 17th], the wind really started picking up and it was warming up, so it just got so much tougher out there.

“It’s one of those golf courses that you go round and you think that it’s there for the taking, but as soon as you let your guard down a little, it bites. So you’ve always got to pick your safe targets off the tees and into greens,” Van Zyl said.

Another Gauteng golfer, Shaun Norris, also teed off from the 10th but 20 minutes earlier than Van Zyl, and he claimed second place with a six-under-par 66 that included an eagle on the 500-metre, par-five 15th.

South Africans Keith Horne and Jbe’ Kruger were the best of the afternoon golfers as they shot five-under-par 67s to share third place. Branden Grace fired a solid 69, while Retief Goosen was the best of the former champions with a 68 that included two double-bogeys.

But Glendower certainly showed her teeth for some of the other big names in the field, with defending champion Andy Sullivan slumping to a 75 after double-bogeys on the par-five second and par-three 17th holes.

Two-time champion Trevor Immelman and George Coetzee were also three-over-par, while Hennie Otto, the last South African to win the national open, in 2011, shot a birdie-less 76.

Five-time champion Ernie Els, who also started off the 10th, eagled the eighth but then three-putted for bogey on the ninth to finish with a 73.




Aggression born out of frustration brings reward for Phelan 0

Posted on October 23, 2015 by Ken

Ireland’s Kevin Phelan took on the East London Golf Club on Thursday with an aggression born out of his frustration at missing last year’s Africa Open cut despite being three-under-par, and his reward was a share of the first-round lead in the co-sanctioned Sunshine/European Tour event.

Phelan came to the Africa Open last year as a rookie pro and shot rounds of 69 and 70, which was not enough for him to make the cut. On Thursday he changed tactics and posted a five-under-par 67 despite a blustery wind that buffeted East London the whole day, giving him a share of the lead with Matt Ford.

“I played conservatively last year, which didn’t work very well, so I was more aggressive today. It led to some easy birdies and I think my longest birdie putt today was from six feet. I managed to keep the momentum going and I went for it any chance I got,” Phelan said after his round, which featured just one bogey.

Although he’s 36 years old, Ford is playing his first fully exempt season on the European Tour, but he said he’s not going to allow himself to get too excited over his remarkable 67, the only bogey-free round on a treacherous day at East London Golf Club.

“I’ve made a few good starts to tournaments but then not taken them through all four rounds, so I’m not going to get too excited.

“I think maybe I try a bit too hard because I haven’t had huge success before. I’m trying so hard to be better, I want it so much and sometimes that just increases the pressure. So the key for me is to keep relaxed. The top guys almost play with a sort of nonchalance, they portray an image that it doesn’t really matter to them, and I find it difficult to do that,” Ford, who made nine unsuccessful visits to Q-School, revealed.

And it’s not as if Englishman Ford was scrambling either. He was seldom in too much trouble and said the closest he came to dropping a shot were a couple of 10-foot par-putts which he sank.

While Phelan was aggressive and it paid off for him, two of the golfers tied for third a stroke behind the leaders said they made a conscious effort not to be too adventurous.

“I love this place. It’s a thinker’s course, not a bomber’s course. You have to manage your way around, and that’s the type of course that I like. It takes away the main weapon of some of the guys, some of the clubs they hit into par-fives are ridiculous, but they can’t do that here this week. Everyone is playing from the same place, because that’s where you have to put the ball, so it makes it a more level playing field,” Richard Bland said.

“It was a very decent wind out there today, it was really pumping at times, so you had to play good links golf at the end of the day. Your short game had to be tidy and there are a couple of driveable par-fours out there, but there’s also a lot of trouble around. So a lot of my game plan was staying away from mistakes,” David Howell said.

Neil Schietekat was the leading South African, also posting a 68 to sit alongside Englishmen Bland, Howell and John Parry, as well as Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva.

Oliver Bekker and Trevor Fisher Junior shot 69s to sit in a tie for eighth with three more Englishmen – Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tom Lewis and Chris Lloyd, as well as Frenchman Gregory Havret.

The South African most people have tipped to once again do well at East London Golf Club was Jaco van Zyl, but he started poorly with three bogeys on the front nine. But a late surge of five birdies in seven holes saw the 13-time Sunshine Tour winner climb to two-under-par and put himself well in contention.

Schietekat has four top-20 finishes in co-sanctioned events and is experienced enough to know he can’t get ahead of himself even though he’s made a great start to the Africa Open.

“I’ve certainly got a lot more confidence, but this is a crazy game – after my first professional win I missed the cut the next week! So I’m just going to try and do what I did today, keep to my routines and think of good tournaments in the past,” Schietekat said.

But Phelan, who shot a 66 in the final round of last weekend’s Joburg Open to tie for second, says he now feels like he can win on the European Tour and he looks like he is going to be a dangerous competitor.

“Last year I didn’t really know that I could compete on this tour, but then I did well towards the end of the season and I really enjoyed contending in Hong Kong, even though I finished second. Last week I had a chance as well and it’s just great to be in contention,” Phelan said.

Dyson & Fisher Junior start late & claim lead 0

Posted on February 28, 2014 by Ken

Trevor Fisher Junior on his way to seven-under

Late starters Simon Dyson and Trevor Fisher Junior claimed the first-round lead of the European Tour/Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned Tshwane Open at the Els Club Copperleaf on Thursday after a weather-curtailed opening round.

Dyson, teeing off at midday in match 29 of 39 to go off the first tee, staged a spectacular finish to his round as he collected four successive birdies to post a seven-under-par 65.

Fisher Junior teed off 50 minutes later and his round was suspended by a large storm that arrived at Copperleaf at 5.30pm, but the South African had already moved to seven-under-par through 16 holes by then.

Both Fisher Junior and Englishman Dyson played bogey-free rounds.

Earlier in the day, South Africans Jared Harvey and Erik van Rooyen, and Englishman Ross Fisher had claimed a share of the early lead with 66s, before being overtaken by Dyson and Fisher Junior.

South Africans Darren Fichardt, through 17 holes, and Danie van Tonder were also on six-under-par when play was called off for the day.

South African Open champion Morten Orum Madsen was in a six-man group on five-under-par, having eagled the par-four seventh hole and then picking up a second eagle on the par-five 15th when he hit his approach shot stone-dead. The Dane was about to hit his second shot on the 18th hole when play was suspended.

Dyson, a six-time European Tour winner, credited his fine round to his ability to recover from lost causes.

“It was a really nice finish, set up by three really good up-and-downs on the three previous holes. On 15 and 16 I also managed to get up-and-down from near the green for birdies and it’s my lowest round for a few years,” Dyson said.

The 36-year-old is also on the comeback trail after a European Tour disciplinary hearing ruled in December that he had been guilty of a deliberate but un-premeditated breach of the rules when he was disqualified from the BMW Masters in Shanghai in October for illegally tapping down a spike mark before he putted. He was fined £30,000 and given a two-month suspended ban, but he admitted there were times when he feared his professional golfing career was dead.

“Today’s round definitely shows I’m in a good state of mind. The controversy gave me my love of the game back, there was a chance it was going to be taken away from me. It made me knuckle down and really enjoy the game again, which isn’t bad in my 14th year on tour,” Dyson said.

Young Van Rooyen, who turned pro last year after playing American college golf for the University of Minnesota, led the qualifiers into the tournament with a 66, and he repeated that score on Thursday, although he admitted the strain of pre-qualifying for every tournament was taking its toll.

“The qualifiers are tough, it’s like a sprint because you only have one round. And then the actual tournament is like a marathon straight afterwards. You’re so happy and pumped that you’ve qualified, but then you have to re-set so you don’t lose focus on the first day. I am getting tired, I won’t lie, it’s quite a lot of pressure and a lot of golf,” Van Rooyen said.

But winning a co-sanctioned event changes lives and Van Rooyen is in line to not have to worry about qualifying any more.

Ross Fisher, number 82 in the world and the second-highest ranked golfer in the field, is lurking dangerously just one shot back and, ominously, says he feels quite comfortable playing in South Africa.

“My game feels in good shape and I don’t know what it is, I just enjoy playing down here and I seem to play quite well. The long game still feels like it’s there and if I can hole a few more putts then I think there will be some really low scores from me,” the 2010 Ryder Cup player said.

George Coetzee, the highest-ranked golfer in the field in 53rd place, is in a tie for 36th after shooting a 70, while defending champion Dawie van der Walt is in trouble on five-over-par through 15 holes.

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