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Ken Borland



On-fire Pace heads for Investec Cup & then the U.S. 0

Posted on January 10, 2016 by Ken

 

South Africa’s number one women’s golfer, Lee-Anne Pace, on Tuesday cruised to her third Sunshine Ladies Tour title, and second in succession, when she won the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club and she will now use this weekend’s Investec Cup for Ladies to fine-tune her game ahead of her return to the United States and the first major of the year.

Pace has played three of the events on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this summer and won all of them, which has seen her motor up the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies standings to third, giving her an excellent chance of defending her title at the limited-field season-finale at Millvale and the Lost City this weekend.

The 34-year-old Pace said on Tuesday at the Investec Cup draw that this weekend’s chase for the R600 000 bonus pool will be the perfect cap for her preparations for the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major, starting on April 2 at the famous Mission Hills Country Club in California.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from these last couple of weeks in South Africa, I’ve been striking the ball really well and I feel a lot more ready for the majors because I’ve been competing. This time last year I hadn’t played nearly as much and especially winning, no other feeling compares to that and hopefully I can carry that into the majors,” Pace told The Citizen on Tuesday.

The world number 31’s willingness to forego competition overseas and play in South Africa shows just what great strides the Sunshine Ladies Tour has taken.

“There’s been a lot more exposure and interest this year and a lot more players competing, including a couple from England. Hopefully they can get the word out and, with such good sponsors on board like Investec, hopefully the tour can get even bigger, maybe have some co-sanctioned events like the men,” Pace said.

Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan said the success of the Sunshine Ladies Tour had surpassed expectations.

“The growth of the women’s tour has been unbelievable, even though it is still a work in progress. This tour is going to grow and we have fantastic plans for it. It’s been an absolute success and sponsors, fans and social media interest have all grown.

“And the appreciation from the women golfers has been amazing, there’s not been one tournament where the sponsors have received less than 30 letters of thanks from the players, and that’s from fields of less than 50,” Nathan said.

 

 

Leishman has the energy to end testing year on a high 0

Posted on December 08, 2015 by Ken

 

It’s been an eventful and testing year for Australian golfer Marc Leishman, but he had the energy to end it on a high and claim the biggest paycheque of his career in winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City by six strokes on Sunday.

With home favourite Jaco van Zyl tumbling down the leaderboard – despite eagling the second he slumped to a six-over-par 78 – Leishman’s only challenger in the final round was world number seven Henrik Stenson, who had overcome severe flu to lead the first two rounds.

But after some early struggles, Leishman’s precise iron play took the wind out of Stenson’s sails, with the 2008 champion only managing to post a level-par 72 in stifling heat as the eventual winner produced some superb golf with six birdies in the last 12 holes.

Leishman began the year ranked 46th in the world after top-10 finishes in the Open and two World Golf Championships events in 2014, but his early season was severely disrupted by his wife Audrey suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome, going into toxic shock and only being given a 5% chance of survival.

Happily she made it through and Leishman played in the Open Championship in July and lost out in the playoff with winner Zach Johnson and South African Louis Oosthuizen.

“I’ve been pretty happy to get this year over with, obviously with Audrey being very sick and I lost an uncle who was very close to me. The Open was very good but disappointing, so this win tops off the year for me. It’s pretty great, an awesome feeling and I’m very happy. It’s the biggest paycheque I’ve ever won so I’ll have to hang it on the wall of our new house,” a delighted Leishman said after he became just the second Australian to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge after Robert Allenby, who beat Stenson in a playoff in 2009.

With the demise of Van Zyl confirmed on the ninth, where he three-putted for bogey to add to the double-bogey he had on the sixth and another dropped shot on eight, the recipient of the $1.25 million winner’s cheque was obviously going to be either Leishman or Stenson.

But Leishman spun a sand-wedge back to within a few inches of the hole for birdie on the par-four 13th and the final nail in the coffin was hammered in when he birdied the 15th from 15 feet and Stenson made bogey after a wayward drive meant he had to chip out of thick bush.

Another birdie on the par-three 16th and two pars coming in meant Leishman completed the round of the day with his 67.

“Henrik is an awesome player who I knew could come back with five birdies in nine holes and two or three up is not that many over nine holes on this course. I knew that trouble waited on every shot and you don’t need to hit that bad a shot to get bogey here. It was probably only after the putt on 16 that I knew I would have to do something really dumb to lose it, but fortunately I was able to be more conservative,” Leishman said.

 

Frustrated Henning gets a 62 out of the blue 0

Posted on September 14, 2015 by Ken

 

Veteran South African golfer Nic Henning has been tearing his hair out over the last few years as his game has steadily declined and then suddenly, out of the blue, came a record-equaling nine-under-par 62 yesterday in the first round of the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

The 45-year-old Henning, the nephew of Harold, turned pro in 1992 and finished in the top 10 on the order of merit in 1997/98, 1999/2000 and 2004/5, but there have been many lean years since then and the last time he was in the top 100 on the money-list was back in 2009.

“The last couple of years I’ve been playing horrible golf and you can see that in my results. I have no idea where today’s round came from, but I’ve been playing a lot recently and it feels fantastic, it’s been a long time since I’ve had such a good round,” Henning said after the best round in his lengthy pro career.

There were seven birdies and an eagle in Henning’s round, which equalled the West Course record set by fellow South African Desvonde Botes in 2007, and he went out in a phenomenal 29 strokes.

“My iron play was really good today, the best it’s been for many years, and I got off to a flyer to settle the nerves with birdies on the first two holes and then the eagle on the third when I hit a seven-iron from 169 metres exactly as I wanted to and it went in the hole!” Henning explained.

There are three golfers one stroke behind Henning on eight-under – fellow South African veterans Titch Moore and Tjaart van der Walt, as well as Thomas Pieters from Belgium.

Dean Burmester, Garth Mulroy and Australian Jason Scrivener are on seven-under, while another seasoned local, Wallie Coetsee, had the best round on the tougher East Course and is in the group on six-under.

Henning has been through the mills in recent years and his amazing round on Thursday was perhaps reward for his determination to keep going.

“You’ve just got to keep on going, fortunately I did well enough earlier in my career to qualify for this tournament through the career money-list, because pre-qualifying, which I had to do a couple of years ago, is really hit-and-miss. But you’ve got to just keep grinding away and believing you can do it,” Henning said.

It was either feast or famine for newly-announced European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke as he collected six birdies, two double-bogeys and two bogeys on his way to a level-par 72 on the East Course, while defending champion George Coetzee was in touch with the leaders after a five-under-par 66 on the West Course.

Thomas Aiken is in the same group after a 67 on the East Course, while two-time champion Richard Sterne is in a tie for 43rd after a 69.

Moore made an incredible start, going five-under-par through five holes after a hole-in-one on the very short 98m par-three.

“I got off to a nice start and was a couple-under. I got up to the fifth and it was a perfect yardage for my 58-degree wedge, I pitched it a little behind the flag and it spun in. It never looked like it was going to miss. To make a one on the card is always special. It was awesome,” Moore said.

 

Schwartzel poised to show he is fitting successor to Els 0

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Ken

If Ernie Els were to hand over the South African Open trophy he has won five times to Charl Schwartzel in the prizegiving ceremony at Glendower Golf Club late on Sunday afternoon it would be entirely fitting and not unexpected given that the country’s highest-ranked golfer will be taking a five-shot lead into the final round.

But there is a chance that the closing ceremony won’t feature Els metaphorically handing over the baton as South Africa’s pre-eminent golfer, but rather the rise to stardom of Matthew Fitzpatrick, the former world number one amateur playing in his rookie season on the European Tour.

Schwartzel fired a brilliant six-under-par 66 on Saturday to go into the final round on 13-under-par, leaving overnight leader Andy Sullivan in his wake as the Englishman struggled to a 74 and is eight shots behind the world number 31.

But other Englishmen rose up to replace Sullivan as strong challengers for the title, most notably Fitzpatrick, who stole some of Schwartzel’s thunder with an astonishing back nine of just 30 strokes for a 67 and eight-under-par overall.

While most 20-year-olds would be going into the final group of the world’s second oldest national open with wide eyes and huge trepidation, Fitzpatrick seems to have a very level head on his shoulders. But the rising star who has already made two cuts in the Majors is also realistic about his chances.

“I can’t say I’ve been in this position before and I’m just going to try and do what I’ve been doing: hit as many fairways as possible, make greens in regulation and steer away from any trouble near the flag. Just give myself a chance for birdie, even if it’s 20-25 feet away.

“There’s always a bit of pressure associated with being the number one amateur and there was a lot of hype after the majors, which I would love to be able to live up to,” Fitzpatrick said.

For his part, Schwartzel is certainly not feeling uncatchable with a five-shot lead.

“Five shots sounds like a lot, but I still have to play well, although I’d much rather be where I am than where the guys chasing me are. I was driving the ball very well today on the front nine and I’d like to play the same way tomorrow, to stay aggressive. This course can catch you even if you’re trying to protect your score, so I won’t change my game plan. I want to stick with driver because if I have a good day with it then it will be difficult to catch me,” Schwartzel said.

Schwartzel took control of the tournament with a blazing start, picking up birdies on the first four holes, proving what a difference a new year can make. The 2011 Masters champion ended 2014 wanting to disown his swing, but he looks much more like the old Charl Schwartzel at Glendower.

It was a torrid 2014 on the course for the 30-year-old, partly because he and his wife Rosalind started a family, but Schwartzel looks ready to transfer the joy in his private life into his workspace.

“I have swung better in the past, but I’ll definitely take the swing I’ve got now because a couple of months ago I didn’t have anything. 2014 was my worst golf year for a long time, but my best year personally, our daughter coming along was fantastic. But it takes a real adjustment and then I started playing badly and it just snowballed,” Schwartzel said.

Fitzpatrick and friends will have to hope Schwartzel falters in the final round, but he showed little sign of that on Thursday, not allowing bogeys on the par-four seventh and a three-putt bogey on the par-five 13th to halt his momentum. He added to his wonderful start with further birdies on eight, nine, 12 and 14.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start with the field pretty bunched up. I wanted to try and separate myself and I’m very pleased with the way it went. It was a whole mixed bag – some spectacular shots, some really bad shots, some great putts and some bad putts. But I was chipping very well and after the start I had, I was able to just grind out a good score,” Schwartzel said.

Scotsman David Drysdale joined Fitzpatrick on eight-under with a 68, while Englishman Lee Slattery produced the round of the day with a 65 that sent him soaring into fourth place on seven-under-par.

Ernie Els started superbly with a front nine of 31 to roar back into contention on five-under-par, but then faded on the back nine as his putting woes returned and he finished the third round with a 69, 10 strokes behind Schwartzel.

 http://citizen.co.za/304884/schwartzels-lead-not-uncatchable/



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