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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.

No silver lining for Bulls as emotions run high at Loftus Versfeld 0

Posted on June 01, 2016 by Ken

 

The emotions were running high at Loftus Versfeld after the Bulls were mauled by the Lions last weekend, so much so that coach Nollis Marais could not see the silver lining which their conquerors’ own recent experiences provides them.

The Lions suffered a similarly dispiriting defeat at home a month ago when they were hammered 50-17 by the Hurricanes; they rebounded spectacularly though and now top the South Africa Conference and are second on the overall log.

All is not lost either for the Bulls, who are four points behind the faltering Stormers and three behind the Sharks in the hunt for the other two local qualification places.

“It’s best not to say anything to the players straight after the game because emotions are still running high and there’s no silver lining. There was a good crowd behind us but we did not put in a good performance, so now we have to bounce back.

“We’re now working on permutations, which is always bad, but we have to get back on the right track. There’s still a lot to play for, we are down but not out … The Hurricanes also gave the Lions a beating a few weeks ago,” the dejected Marais said.

In a way, the fortnight’s break that the Bulls will now have has come at a good time, preventing them from harping on about one of their worst displays of the season and a humiliating defeat at their home fortress.

The Bulls have to hop on a plane to Argentina when the competition resumes at the beginning of July to take on the Jaguares, before hosting the Sunwolves and then finishing their campaign with a potentially tricky visit to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

“We were short against the Lions, but sometimes it’s good to have setbacks, you learn from them. Not getting it too easy maybe makes the players work harder,” Marais said.

Sharks expect & train for physicality & high tempo from Jaguares 0

Posted on March 02, 2016 by Ken

 

Physicality and a high tempo from the Jaguares is what the Sharks are expecting and have trained for ahead of their SuperRugby clash against the tournament newcomers at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, according to veteran wing Odwa Ndungane.

After the Sharks hammered the Kings in Port Elizabeth and the Jaguares staged a dramatic comeback to pip the Cheetahs in the opening round of matches, the KwaZulu-Natal franchise are one point ahead of the Argentinians in their conference and intend to stay ahead of their dangerous opponents.

“Watching the Jaguares in the World Cup and the Rugby Championship, and then again against the Cheetahs, it’s definitely going to be a tough game, they are physical and play at a fast tempo, they showed they like to throw the ball around last weekend.

“But that’s what we’ve been exposed to in SuperRugby. Although we beat Toulon and Toulouse on our pre-season tour and they were a good test, we knew that it wasn’t really SuperRugby level. We always knew we would have to make a step up and it will be no different this weekend. We’ll have to be really tight and not give them a sniff,” Ndungane said on Tuesday.

When they managed to get quick ball against the tenacious Kings, the Sharks were able to play some daring rugby, with Ndungane scoring twice in a typically busy-bee performance by the evergreen 35-year-old.

“To score six tries in Port Elizabeth is not easy to achieve, but it’s what we set out to do and it’s wonderful to achieve that in the first game. So there were a lot of good things we take out of that performance, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement and we’ll work hard again this week to get those things right,” Ndungane said.

Defence coach Omar Mouneimne said he was pleased the team had been tested by the hard-hitting Kings as warm-up games don’t quite have the same buzz and intensity.

“We hadn’t had physical contact for two weeks, so we needed a physical hit-out in a real game and get the nerves bled out, to feel like we’re really in the tournament. We needed real bullets fired under real pressure after two warm-up games. We were a bit messy and could have been a little more accurate. But in saying that, I think it was down to nerves. You’re not going to do things perfectly in the first game and, at half-time, the talk was about lifting the intensity, about playing at another level and to outpace and outmuscle them, and there were signs of that,” Mouneimne said.

Nollis looks to shield Bulls from public expectation 0

Posted on February 25, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais acknowledges that public expectation will be high when his new-look team start their SuperRugby campaign against the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend, but he wants to shield his team from those pressures.
“It’s time for the new blood to step up and they can learn from the guys who have played SuperRugby before. But I don’t want them to get caught up in the emotion of a Western Province versus Bulls game, we need to make sure that we are level-headed and don’t allow them to dictate how we play. I want the guys to just play, it’s going to be a big game but we must just look forward to it.
“As a coach, you always want to win trophies, but at the moment our aim is just to make the playoffs first,” Marais said.
And while most of the attention has been focused on the exciting Bulls backline and the major blow that is the loss of flyhalf Handre Pollard to injury, Marais said his attention has been on ensuring his team has a good set-piece.
“You need solid set-pieces to play any sort of attacking rugby. You have to at least win your own ball, to give yourself an attacking platform, sometimes it’s the only way to generate momentum.
“Handre is obviously a big loss because he brings a brand of attacking and physical play to flyhalf. But I used Tian Schoeman for the whole Currie Cup and he’s a good talent. Francois Brummer has been through the mill and they need to step up. But we can’t expect them to be Handre Pollard, they just need to be themselves,” Marais added.

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