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Ken Borland



Noren aimed low but ended over the moon 0

Posted on November 15, 2016 by Ken

 

Alex Noren was not aiming high at the start of the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City on Sunday, but he was over the moon after a phenomenal nine-under-par round of 63 earned him a dazzling six-shot victory at Gary Player Country Club.

In the 36 editions of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, only two other golfers – Sergio Garcia (2001) and Ernie Els (2002) – have shot 63 in the final round to win and it’s fair to say the course was much easier back then.

The 34-year-old Swede started the day six strokes behind leader Jeunghun Wang, who had fired a wonderful 64 in incredibly tough conditions on the third day and seemed to already have one hand on the famous crystal trophy.

But Noren produced a magnificent front nine, that featured six birdies, and then eagled the 10th and birdied 11 to rocket into the lead, nine-under through 11 holes and playing golf that was simply out of this world.

“Honestly, I thought I had no chance at the start of the round, this is a really tricky course and the leader had shot 64 yesterday which was like 59 today.

“So I just wanted to get a good round in before the World Tour Championship in Dubai next week, to have a good positive feeling going there, work on my swing a bit. Anything under par I would have been happy,” Noren said after his fourth victory in his last 11 tournaments.

But after starting with three straight birdies he then also picked up a shot on the fifth and then sank a 30-foot putt for another birdie on the par-three seventh; two behind Wang, he started to believe.

“I was a bit nervous at the start, I didn’t feel on top of my game but something happened and after seven holes I started to realise that I must believe in myself that I can win. My putter was very hot and I got a lot more excited,” Noren said.

The 21-year-old Wang initially held things together well and was not going away as he birdied the ninth to draw level with Noren. But he could only muster one more birdie on the back nine and, with his tee-shots going ever more off-target, he was undone by four bogeys coming in, having to settle for second place.

Louis Oosthuizen, three off the lead at the start of the day, just could not get going on Sunday and double-bogeyed the par-three seventh after finding the greenside bunker to fall off the pace. He birdied the 10th and 15th holes, but there were more dropped shots on the last three holes as he finished ninth, nine behind Noren.

Andy Sullivan shot a level-par 72 on Sunday to finish on seven-under, tied for third with leading South African Branden Grace (70), Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (68), Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (68) and Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia (67).

Henrik Stenson shot a 70 to finish eighth on six-under and will be going to the Race to Dubai finale in Dubai this week on top of the order of merit, but with Danny Willett and Noren still able to catch him.

Rookie Willett all class as he cruises to victory at Sun City 0

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Ken

Danny Willett was all-class as he cruised to victory by four strokes in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City on Sunday, shooting an outstanding six-under-par 66 to become the first rookie to win the tournament since Mark McNulty in 1986.

Willett, who finished on 18-under-par 270, all but sealed the triumph on the front nine, a sensational start with three birdies in the first five holes seeing him leap ahead of overnight leader Luke Donald.

In an all-English final three-ball, Donald faded to third on 12-under-par after struggling to a one-over-par 73, while Ross Fisher claimed second after a fine four-under-par 68 left him on 14-under.

Willett displayed a golden touch around the greens, making birdie putts from the fringe on the third and fifth holes, chipping delightfully from the fringe to set up birdie on the par-five second, and producing excellent bunker-shots to save par on the sixth and 12th holes, while a crucial moment came on the par-five 14th when a brilliant bunker shot left him with a crunch five-foot putt for birdie. After pulling away when a fly landed on his putter, Willett drained the putt to maintain a three-shot lead with four to play, Fisher and Donald both also picking up birdies at the infamous “love-grass hole”.

It was an utterly frustrating day for Donald, the former world number one trying to return to previous heights. On his 37th birthday, he bogeyed the third and fifth holes, which Willett birdied, resulting in a pair of two-shot swings.

Birdies on the sixth and ninth holes brought Donald back into contention, but he was still beholden on mistakes from Willett, which never came despite the 27-year-old’s aggressive play.

Instead, it was Donald who immediately faltered on 10, his drive going into the fairway bunker and his second not going anywhere, as he dropped another shot.

Fisher dropped three shots in his round, his second coming up short of the green on the fifth hole, a wayward drive leading to a bogey on six and another tee-shot into the trees on 11 also costing him. He did birdie 13and 14, but Willett was unstoppable.

The former world amateur number one reached the 17th, with its prize car no longer glistening as storm clouds shut out the sun, and promptly rolled in a 15-foot putt for birdie.

The Yorkshireman from the industrial city of Sheffield had the steel that counted on the final day, a top-class performance bringing him his second European Tour win, but his biggest every paycheque of $1.25 million.

It was a thunderous display to match the thunder that greeted his final putt on 18, a third English winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge being crowned, joining former world number ones in Lee Westwood and Nick Faldo.

 

 

Tremendous Willett roars to victory at Sun City 0

Posted on January 18, 2015 by Ken

Danny Willett roared to victory by four shots at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday, firing a tremendous six-under-par 66 in the final round at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.


UPDATE: Nedbank Golf Challenge: The Sun City showdown


Willett is the first rookie winner since Zimbabwean Mark McNulty in 1986 and he breezed past overnight leader Luke Donald, who endured a frustrating birthday as he battled to a one-over-par 73 and dropped to third.

Ross Fisher posted a fine four-under-par 68 to climb into second place, two ahead of Donald, but even talk of him overtaking Willett was made foolish by the 27-year-old’s superb display.

Whenever he was under pressure, he produced a wonderful save and once he birdied the par-five 14thfrom the sand, he was able to cruise to victory, even being able to take a comfort break on the 17thfairway.

Willett gained another birdie on the par-four 17th, draining a 15-foot putt that vouched for his brilliance with the short stick all day.

Donald erred for one last time on 18 to sum up his day, sending his drive way right into long grass and rocks, forcing him just to chip out on to the fairway, from which he completed a bogey.

The three men from England just beat a storm to complete their rounds, thunder ringing out as the final putts were made; but it was Willett who stole the thunder from all-comers.

Willett was in pole position with a four-shot lead as the Nedbank Golf Challenge entered the final straight.

The English trio of Willett, Donald and Fisher made up the final three-ball and were the only golfers who had a realistic chance of claiming the title and the first-prize cheque of $1.25 million.

Donald began the day with a one-stroke lead over Willett, with Fisher another two shots back.

But Willett roared out of the blocks, his list of birdies in the first five holes earning him a comfortable lead, which he built on with another shot gained at the par-five 10th, taking him to 16-under through 12 holes.

Fisher, who won the Tshwane Open in Centurion earlier this year, was tied for second place on 12-under with Donald after going out in two-under 34 thanks to consecutive birdies at the eighth and ninth holes.

The tall 34-year-old then drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but a wayward drive on the 11th, rebounding off the trees but not allowing him a shot at the green with his second, led to a bogey.

Donald also clawed a shot back when he birdied the par-five ninth after laying up – Willett getting on in two but misreading his eagle-putt – but the former world number one immediately gave the stroke back with a bogey at 10, a visit to a fairway bunker which he couldn’t initially get out of costing him an extra shot.

The fickle fortunes of golf were clearly displayed in the opening holes of the final round as Willett snatched a three-shot lead.

Overnight leader Donald must have been contemplating what a harsh mistress the game can be as, on his birthday, he bogeyed two of the first five holes and watched Willett fire his way to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies.

And just to top his frustration, Donald birdied the par-four sixth after a super approach shot but watched Willett escape from trouble as he salvaged a par with a brilliant up-and-down after being embedded in the bunker behind the green.

Willett had a perfect record from the fringe, a delightful chip down the hill on the par-five second setting up a birdie and the 27-year-old then rolled in birdie putts from the fringe on the third and fifth holes, both par-fours.

Donald’s 10-foot birdie putt on the sixth pulled one stroke back after bogeys on the third and fifth holes led to a pair of two-stroke swings with Willett.

On the third, Donald put his approach into the bunker left of the flag, short-siding himself, and an awkward lie meant he could only chip across the green. The birthday boy, celebrating his 37th, short-sided himself again on the fifth with a wayward approach shot over the green.

Fisher would have been perfectly happy with his start as a 10-foot putt on the par-three fourth gave him his second birdie. But successive bogeys then undid those gains, his approach on the fifth finishing short of the green and a wayward drive on six, followed by his third shot going over the green, led to another dropped shot, leaving him five behind Willett.

Frenchman Alexander Levy was also contemplating the vagaries of the game as he took 10 at the par-five ninth, twice hitting from the drop zone into the water surrounding the green. To his credit, he was still smiling as he trudged off the green and he birdied the 10th and 11th holes.

 http://citizen.co.za/288461/nedbank-golf-challenge-update/

Willett in pole position as NGC enters final straight 0

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Ken

Danny Willett was in pole position with a four-shot lead as the Nedbank Golf Challenge entered the final straight at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City on Sunday.

The English trio of Willett, Luke Donald and Ross Fisher made up the final three-ball and were the only golfers who had a realistic chance of claiming the title and the first-prize cheque of $1.25 million.

Donald began the day with a one-stroke lead over Willett, with Fisher another two shots back.

But Willett roared out of the blocks, his list of birdies in the first five holes earning him a comfortable lead, which he built on with another shot gained at the par-five 10th, taking him to 16-under through 12 holes.

Fisher, who won the Tshwane Open in Centurion earlier this year, was tied for second place on 12-under with Donald after going out in two-under 34 thanks to consecutive birdies at the eighth and ninth holes.

The tall 34-year-old then drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but a wayward drive on the 11th, rebounding off the trees but not allowing him a shot at the green with his second, led to a bogey.

Donald also clawed a shot back when he birdied the par-five ninth after laying up – Willett getting on in two but misreading his eagle-putt – but the former world number one immediately gave the stroke back with a bogey at 10, a visit to a fairway bunker which he couldn’t initially get out of costing him an extra shot.

The fickle fortunes of golf were clearly displayed in the opening holes of the final round as Willett snatched a three-shot lead.

Overnight leader Donald must have been contemplating what a harsh mistress the game can be as, on his birthday, he bogeyed two of the first five holes and watched Willett fire his way to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies.

And just to top his frustration, Donald birdied the par-four sixth after a super approach shot but watched Willett escape from trouble as he salvaged a par with a brilliant up-and-down after being embedded in the bunker behind the green.

Willett had a perfect record from the fringe, a delightful chip down the hill on the par-five second setting up a birdie and the 27-year-old then rolled in birdie putts from the fringe on the third and fifth holes, both par-fours.

Donald’s 10-foot birdie putt on the sixth pulled one stroke back after bogeys on the third and fifth holes led to a pair of two-stroke swings with Willett.

On the third, Donald put his approach into the bunker left of the flag, short-siding himself, and an awkward lie meant he could only chip across the green. The birthday boy, celebrating his 37th, short-sided himself again on the fifth with a wayward approach shot over the green.

Fisher would have been perfectly happy with his start as a 10-foot putt on the par-three fourth gave him his second birdie. But successive bogeys then undid those gains, his approach on the fifth finishing short of the green and a wayward drive on six, followed by his third shot going over the green, led to another dropped shot, leaving him five behind Willett.

Frenchman Alexander Levy was also contemplating the vagaries of the game as he took 10 at the par-five ninth, twice hitting from the drop zone into the water surrounding the green. To his credit, he was still smiling as he trudged off the green and he birdied the 10th and 11th holes.

 

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