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Ken Borland



Keeping aggressive attitude leads to untroubled win for Shubhankar 0

Posted on December 14, 2017 by Ken

 

Shubhankar Sharma, the winner of the weather-disrupted Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club on Monday, said he worked hard on keeping an aggressive attitude on the course and, as a consequence, the rising Indian star never looked in trouble as he sealed a three-shot victory on 23-under-par.

The tri-sanctioned tournament had to be completed on Monday morning due to the fourth afternoon being almost entirely washed out, and it made for an anxious wait for Shubhankar, who led by four shots overnight.

“I obviously did not sleep last night, I woke up four times, every couple of hours, because it was raining so hard. There were a lot of nerves beforehand, absolutely, because if you are chasing then you have nothing to lose, but if you are leading then you can only maintain that.

“But I was really calm once I got going, I just stuck to my game-plan and kept saying to myself to be aggressive, I never wanted to defend my lead. I set myself a target of finishing 25-under, but 23-under will do. I just kept imagining that I was three shots back,” Shubhankar said after his first victory outside of India.

As impeccable as his golf was – the accuracy of Shubhankar’s driving was particularly impressive – the standout feature of the 21-year-old’s tournament was his composure and he obviously has a very good head on his shoulders, showing maturity beyond his years.

While having one of the hottest putters in the 240-man field obviously helped a great deal in accumulating 26 birdies over the week, the absence of bogeys in his last three rounds is what pleased Shubhankar most.

“I hit the ball good and putted very well, but the up-and-downs I made the whole week were very crucial. Those par-saves get your round going and I made vital pars on 10, 13 and 15 today. Not having any bogeys was one of my main objectives today and not dropping any shots over the last three days is what makes me most happy, that’s good golf and the best part of my win,” he said.

Shubhankar resumed his round on the eighth hole on Monday and the looming presence of South African Erik van Rooyen meant he could not relax, even after birdieing the par-four ninth hole from 25 feet.

Van Rooyen shot a brilliant 66 to finish second, but Shubhankar notched pars all the way home to ensure he did not provide a back door for the chaser to slip through.

Van Rooyen said he was “really proud” of his effort but “I just could not squeeze any more birdies the way I wanted to”.

Fellow South African Shaun Norris also had plenty of reasons to smile as he roared through the field with a 65 to finish tied for third with Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen (68). Both Van Rooyen and Norris, who pipped Pulkkanen due to his better world ranking, qualified to join Shubhankar at next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-golf-sport/1755454/it-pays-off-to-be-aggressive-says-joburg-open-winner-sharma/

Free-thinking Frittelli zooming up the rankings 0

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Ken

 

Dylan Frittelli is South Africa’s fastest rising golf star and a stellar 2017 has seen him zoom up the world golf rankings from number 152 at the start of the year to 55th when he teed it up at the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club this week.

The 27-year-old can certainly hit a little white dimpled ball as cleanly and powerfully as anyone else in the country, courtesy of the natural ball skills that saw him earn junior provincial colours in baseball, soccer, hockey and golf, but Frittelli clearly has another great strength, one that is as priceless as a ming vase when it comes to a sport as mentally taxing as golf.

Frittelli is clearly a deep thinker on the game and much of that thinking can be classified as lateral judging by the unusual decisions he has made.

Golf started as a Sunday driving range occupation with his provincial hockey-playing father, with a few rounds with friends over the holidays, but at the age of 11, Frittelli went to a World of Golf camp where his considerable talent was first spotted by a coach.

“From then I took things seriously, but I still played a bunch of sports until I was 15,” Frittelli said.

It was when the Johannesburg-born youngster went to St Albans boarding school in Pretoria that he made his first eccentric decision that worked out wonderfully.

“At St Albans, I asked the headmaster if I could just play golf and he said no, because they needed me in the cricket and hockey teams. So I did home-schooling instead, it was a bit of a mad scientist idea and I just said ‘let’s see what happens’. I started matric in Grade 10 and was done a year earlier than if I’d stayed in school,” Frittelli explained.

The tall, dark-haired Frittelli continues to do things differently to this day, foregoing time-consuming and often energy-draining practice rounds on courses he has played before, and even taking a compass on to the tee with him to ensure he gets his angles dead right.

The extra year he gained through home-schooling allowed Frittelli to not only play more golf but also seriously consider trying to get into the American college golf programme.

“I had it in mind that I really wanted to go to the United States and when I won the Junior World Championships in San Diego when I was 17, that opened doors for me. It was between the University of Texas and Arkansas, and Texas offered me a full scholarship,” he said.

And, by a quirk of fate, a young Jordan Spieth soon also arrived at the University of Texas and he and Frittelli would earn the Longhorns their first national championship title in 40 years in 2012, the South African sinking a 30-foot putt on the 18th to claim the win.

“Jordan was still a junior then, but I stayed in the same dorm as him at the Spirit International and helped persuade him to come to Texas. We were pretty much playing at the same level back then and to make the putt to win Nationals was huge, especially since we hadn’t won for so long,” Frittelli said.

Frittelli has won twice on the European Tour this year and, although his chances of adding to that tally at the Joburg Open are slim as he ended his second round 10 shots off the pace, he looks set to break into the top-50 in the world rankings in the near future.

And then he will be going to the majors, from which he hopes to get into the U.S. PGA Tour, especially since he still has a house in Austin, Texas.

He also badly wants to win in South Africa, to show local fans, who have not had much chance to get to know him, what he’s made of.

“I’ve only gained spots through qualifying school on the European and Sunshine tours but I would love to play in the U.S. as well. I also haven’t had any big victories in South Africa, which I would love to do because that would definitely cement my standing here.

“But I pride myself on being able to play well away from home and I won in Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico as an amateur, and now in Europe and Mauritius as a pro. Every good result you get breeds confidence and I felt really calm winning in Mauritius last week, which is how you want to be. No stress,” the laid-back surfing fan said.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/1753864/sas-fastest-rising-golf-star/

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.

 

Sullivan is the master of Johannesburg golf 0

Posted on September 18, 2015 by Ken

Andy Sullivan is the sole master of golf in Johannesburg after the Englishman added the Joburg Open title on Sunday to his victory seven weeks ago in the South African Open at Glendower.

In a thrilling final day at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, Sullivan fired a brilliant six-under-par 66 on the testing East Course to finish on 17-under-par, two strokes ahead of fellow Englishmen Anthony Wall and David Howell, Ireland’s Kevin Phelan and South Africans Wallie Coetsee and Jaco van Zyl.

A playoff looked the most likely conclusion to the day as a handful of golfers jockeyed for the lead, which changed hands several times on the final day, but it was Sullivan who ended alone on top, a comfortable winner having made the putts that mattered most. Overnight leader Coetsee was two shots ahead at the start of the final round, but Sunday was just not his day as he posted a one-under-par 71 and had to settle for one of the bridesmaid’s positions on 15-under.

Phelan and Van Zyl both matched Sullivan’s 66, but the Irishman could only collect two birdies on the back nine after going out in a superb 32. Van Zyl came agonisingly close to eagle on the 18th hole, but his birdie left him with a blemish-free round and an outstanding return to top form after double knee surgery last year.

Wall claimed a share of the lead with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14, but made crucial lapses on the 15th and 18th holes.

On 15 his approach slid off the green into the reeds surrounding the dam in front of the putting surface, leading to a bogey, while his drive on the final hole went under the trees on the left, forcing him to settle for par when he really needed at least a birdie to put pressure on Sullivan.

Howell also made two crucial errors in the closing holes, driving into the water on 14 which led to bogey, and then missing a vital five-foot birdie putt on 15. The former Ryder Cup player and top-10 golfer parred his way in for a 69, failing to add to his four birdies on the front nine.

Sullivan smiled his way through the tense closing stages of the co-sanctioned European Tour/Sunshine Tour event and he believes one of the main reasons for his dramatic rise up the world rankings has been the perspective given to him by his daughter’s birth 18 months ago.

“It’s been a long, hard slog for me and it took me a long time to realise that the best way to play golf is to enjoy it. My little girl Ruby put that into perspective for me, when I see my daughter’s little face at the end of the day, golf doesn’t matter so much. She doesn’t know whether you’ve played good or bad golf.

“I felt really good down the stretch at Glendower and even better today. There wasn’t any pressure, I was very relaxed and it was just me and ‘Macca’ [caddy Sean McDonagh] having a laugh, a Saturday afternoon stroll on the golf course,” the 28-year-old Sullivan said.

Sullivan began the day three shots off the pace and, after the disappointment of only making par on the par-five first hole – eight of the top-10 made birdie or better there on Sunday – he was able to make birdie on the daunting, long par-three second after a superb tee-shot.

He added further birdies to his cart on the fourth and sixth holes, and then snatched the lead with successive birdies as he reached the turn.

But an approach shot into the water on the signature 11th hole threatened to bring him to his knees, except Sullivan kept his cool and nailed a 25-foot putt that limited the damage to just one dropped shot.

Sullivan picked up just two more birdies after that, on the 15th and 18th holes, but the size of the task proved too much for all his challengers.

The birdie on 18 was accompanied by a sigh of relief because Sullivan left his eagle putt eight feet short of the hole, leaving him with a crucial tester.

“I knew if I got a birdie on the last I’d have a really good chance of winning, but I left myself with a bit more than I would have liked,” he admitted.

Although the man from the English midlands strikes a happy-go-lucky demeanour on the course, he never does anything silly and solid, tee-to-green golf and making the putts that mattered is what earned him his second European Tour title.

“I don’t know what it is about playing in Johannesburg, but I just feel really relaxed here. I wish I could play here every week. Maybe it’s because the wine is unbelievably cheap here, which is great,” Sullivan joked.

Being in contention is what Sullivan thrives on and he said he would love to “bottle the unbelievable emotions every time I’m in contention”.

The man from the English midlands also grabbed one of the three places on offer for the Open Championship in July at the Old Course at St Andrew’s, the home of golf.

The other two spots went to Wall and Howell, on the basis of the tie-breaker that relied on the highest-ranked golfers on the world rankings that finished in the top three at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington.

 

http://citizen.co.za/336123/sullivan-adds-joburg-open-title-to-his-victory/

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