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Ken Borland



Noren blitzes front nine to win from far behind 0

Posted on November 16, 2016 by Ken

 

Alex Noren started the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City on Sunday six strokes behind the leader and said he didn’t feel he had any chance of winning.

But the 34-year-old Swede immediately birdied the first three holes and set about producing a dazzling front nine of just 30 strokes.

As if that wasn’t good enough, he then eagled the 10th hole and birdied 11 to go to nine-under-par for his round. Suddenly, he was three strokes ahead of overnight leader Jeunghun Wang.

Although he completed the last seven holes in level-par, it was enough for him to double his lead by the end of the day as he signed for an incredible final round of 63 and a six-stroke win on 14-under-par.

“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 astonishing victory at the Gary Player Country Club.

None of the other contenders were able to check Noren’s incredible rise up the leaderboard, with the final three-ball of Wang, local favourite Louis Oosthuizen and Andy Sullivan all struggling to get going.

Pars were the order of the day for Oosthuizen, who started the day three behind Wang, and the South African then fell six behind after a double-bogey at the par-three seventh when he got stuck in a greenside bunker.

Wang was a pale shadow of the golfer who had shot an incredible 64 in decidedly unfriendly conditions in the third round, a bogey on the fourth and two dropped shots on the par-four eighth undoing his birdies on the second and fourth holes.

Even though he birdied the par-five ninth to draw level with Noren, it was clear all the momentum was with one of the most in-form players on the European Tour.

It was a hammer blow for Wang when Noren eagled the 10th and when he sank a superb flop-shot for birdie after short-siding himself on 11, the look of disbelief he received from Henrik Stenson’s caddy said it all.

Back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16 thanks to wayward tee shots were the final blows to Wang’s chances as the 21-year-old South Korean had to settle for second on eight-under-par.

Sullivan birdied the second hole, but he then made three bogeys to undo the two more birdies he made, finishing with a level-par 72 and in a tie for third, seven strokes behind Noren, with Branden Grace (70), Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (68), Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (68) and Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia (67).

Noren said his putter was his most outstanding club and it was hard to argue as his birdie putts on the first, seventh and eighth holes were all longer than 20 feet, as was his eagle putt on the 10th.

“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’ve never holed so many putts, I think on those first 11 holes, and I got a lot more excited,” Noren said.

Even though he registered his only bogey of the day on the par-five 14th, after a visit to the infamous love-grass, his victory – his fourth in his last 11 tournaments – was already secure by then.

The win keeps him in contention to win the Race to Dubai next weekend as he has vaulted into third place behind Stenson and Danny Willett, and 2017 will no doubt offer more titles for the newest member of the world top 10.

“I’ve been able to see what sort of game I could have and what I need to do to compete with the best. Today everything worked, but I still have a lot of work to do,” Noren said.

Stenson shot a two-under-par 70 on Sunday to finish in eighth place and will take a 300-point lead into the final event of the Race to Dubai next weekend.

Oosthuizen bogeyed on 16 and then double-dropped on the 17th to finish on five-under for the tournament and in ninth place.

Grace three-putted for a bogey on the last to slide back into the tie for third, a very costly lapse, but finished as the leading South African.

South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer did confirm that he is still determined to become the first local winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge since Trevor Immelman in 2007.

“I was very disappointed with the three-putt on 18, but tied third is my best finish here yet, and hopefully next year I can come back and improve on that,” Grace said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-golf/1343936/noren-producing-top-grade-golf-storm-lead/

Ahlers wins as 3rd visit to water not redeemable for Van Zyl 0

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Ken

A third visit to the water on the 18th hole in the playoff was not redeemable for Jaco van Zyl as Jaco Ahlers clinched the Chase to the Investec Cup final and won the lucrative R3.5 million bonus pool for the overall standings leader as well.

Van Zyl and Ahlers both shot brilliant 66s on the final day to finish on nine-under-par, one stroke ahead of Justin Harding and overnight leader George Coetzee, and had to go down the 18th three more times in the playoff before Ahlers sank a six-foot putt for par to take the biggest win of his career.

On the second playoff hole, Van Zyl staged a remarkable recovery to make par after his drive went in the water and his third shot, after dropping, found the hazard in front of the green. But an excellent chip enabled him to save par, which Ahlers could not beat as he sent his drive way left into a waste bunker and he had to lay up.

But Van Zyl astonishingly sent his third playoff drive into the same watery grave and this time his third also landed up in the water in front of the green.

Ahlers had also found the water off the tee but, hitting his third after Van Zyl’s errant approach, he took the conservative route and laid up in front of the green, before chipping on and leaving himself with a testing little six-footer for the win.

The R3.5 million bonus pool prize, plus R163 400 for winning the final, is by far the biggest paycheque ever for Ahlers, but the 32-year-old who plays out of Koro Creek Golf Estate, said he was more motivated for his third Sunshine Tour title than for the money.

“It’s amazing to win but I really haven’t had much time to think about it. I just wanted to win, I wasn’t thinking about the money, but we have just bought a house so it will come in handy,” Ahlers, a father of two, said.

It’s been a life-changing four months for Ahlers as his victory in the Cape Town Open in November earned him a place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where he finished in a tie for 21st and took home R1.3 million. That win in the Mother City also came in a playoff.

“I was pretty calm today. Four months ago I won a four-hole playoff to win the Cape Town Open and my first win in 2009 also came in a playoff, so that gave me confidence,” Ahlers said.

The soon-to-be George resident started the day four strokes behind Coetzee, but cashed in on a hot putter, with birdies on the third, fifth and seventh holes, as well as chipping in for eagle from the bunker on the par-five fourth.

Coetzee, meanwhile, was having an average day, having dropped a shot on the par-three fourth when he found the bunker, but birdies on the two par-fives on the front nine (4th & 7th) and another on the par-four 14th meant he was still hanging on to a share of the lead as he reached the penultimate hole.

But his drive on the tricky 450-metre par-four 17th, the toughest hole on the final day, was awful, so far left that it appeared to be heading into the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Coetzee miraculously found his ball in the thick bushveld, but it was totally unplayable, so he had to reload and play three off the tee, leading to a double-bogey.

The 28-year-old did make a remarkable birdie on the last, after hitting a wood out of the waste bunker just too far and running out of green, into the water behind, but it was not enough to keep his title hopes alive.

Van Zyl, meanwhile, birdied four of the last five holes to post nine-under as the clubhouse lead and, once Ahlers found the bunker off the tee on 17 to drop a shot and then could only par 18 after his approach went into the bunker behind the green, it was all about the two Jacos as they went into the playoff.

It was not all smooth sailing for Ahlers, but he made the clutch putts that mattered.

*In the Investec Cup for Ladies, Lee-Anne Pace continued her all-conquering run through the series, winning the final by eight strokes.

http://citizen.co.za/349066/ahlers-wins-as-van-zyl-perishes-in-the-water/

Schalk Burger doesn’t tell how to do it, he does it! 0

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Ken

New Springbok captain Schalk Burger is not the sort of leader who will tell his team to run through brick walls; instead, he will run through first and lead the way for his charges.

Burger, who was named as South Africa’s 55th Test captain on Tuesday for the Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park against New Zealand on Saturday, is the epitome of “leading from the front” and one could tell it was a special moment too for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer when he announced the appointment of the 32-year-old.

“A Springbok captain needs to lead from the front and Schalk’s play speaks for itself. He’s not a big talker but he brings calmness and experience and I’m 100% certain I’ve made the right decision by appointing Schalk. He’s a warrior and a born leader and it just shows that one should never give up on your dreams; he’s an inspiration for the team, for the country and for me,” Meyer said.

Burger himself said he would not be doing too much speaking ahead of the clash against the old foe.

“I’m not going to talk too much, leading from the front is just the way I play. Obviously there’ll be a lot of emotion involved, playing in front of a full house at Ellis Park in one of the games you dream of playing in. I don’t think it will affect my game because, whether I’m captain or not, I have a leadership role in the team. And there’ll be a big group of leaders around me as well on Saturday,” Burger said.

It is actually a surprise that one of the legends of Springbok rugby, someone who has been wearing the Green and Gold since 2003, hasn’t captained the team before, but it is entirely fitting that Burger gets the honour in a match against the All Blacks, the arch-rivals and with whom there is much mutual respect.

“I don’t think the challenge can get any bigger. As a youngster, everything revolves around you playing against the All Blacks, in the wet Cape Town winter, it was always a Test against New Zealand that you were playing. It’s going to be a big responsibility, but I won’t be leading alone, there are other senior players around me. But it’s a big honour which I thought was neusie verby [an opportunity no longer available] for me,” Burger said.

As for Saturday’s Test, Burger said there was much to learn from the Springboks’ last-minute loss last weekend to Australia as well as their 79th-minute win over the All Blacks in the corresponding match at Ellis Park last year.

“You have to play at a high level for 80 minutes against the All Blacks, you have to keep playing. Last week we didn’t consciously take our feet off the pedal, it was just that we couldn’t get any field position in the last 20 minutes. We weren’t as accurate as we wanted to be in that final quarter,” the stand-in captain for Victor Matfield said.

But Burger has seen many disappointments during his career and there are not many players who are better than him at bouncing back from adversity.

There are not many current international players who finished a Test with a broken neck and have returned to the highest level as good a player if not better.

Laureus awards are highly sought-after in the world of sport and Burger richly deserved his for Comeback of the Year having recovered from a life-threatening bout of bacterial meningitis in 2013. He made his return to the Springboks last season after a three-year absence and now he is finally going to lead them out on to the field.

“Obviously when I was that ill, I was just begging to play one more Test. It probably sounds like a fairytale,” Burger said.

As last week’s bitter defeat in Brisbane showed, experienced players and leaders are vital for a successful World Cup campaign and Meyer’s planning has revolved around that.

“I was thinking what if Jean de Villiers can’t make it to the World Cup and then Victor gets injured, so I wanted to give someone a go because I don’t want to appoint a new captain at the World Cup.

“Games in the World Cup will go down to the wire and you have to go to that tournament with experience. The pressure showed in the SuperRugby playoff the Stormers lost and for us in Brisbane in the last 20 minutes.

“I never thought I’d be in this position in a World Cup year, having to use new players and there could be one or two more new caps this week. I always said I wanted everyone to have 30 Tests going into the World Cup, like Eben Etzebeth and Marcell Coetzee do. Having players with 50-60 Tests makes a huge difference and I would love to have that,” Meyer said.

As the coach said, the Springbok captain also needs to be a role-model off the field and in Burger he has one of the most popular and respected people in rugby. Whatever the result on Saturday, there’s no doubt the team would have run through walls for the veteran loose-forward.

Bok scrum fade had much to do with captaincy issues 0

Posted on July 20, 2015 by Ken

 

Much of the blame for South Africa’s late defeat in Brisbane has been laid on the scrum, but what hasn’t been mentioned is the effect losing captain Victor Matfield had on the set-piece. And now the Springboks are set to name an interim captain on Tuesday afternoon, with Schalk Burger also injured, leaving Francois Louw as the likely new leader.

The Springbok scrum had been dominant for the first hour against the Wallabies, the Sharks front-row of Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis producing a much-improved display, but with the whole front row controversially replaced, the home side ended the match in charge of that set-piece, providing them with a priceless platform for their late charge.

Captain Matfield had of course left the field in the first half with a hamstring strain and, although the lanky lock does not contribute a huge amount in terms of scrummaging, his absence from the tight five was nevertheless keenly felt as the Wallabies stole control in that facet.

That’s because the Australians were allowed to close the gap at set-up and engage early, something an experienced member of the tight five like Matfield would no doubt have brought to the attention of referee Nigel Owens. Instead, Burger was leading the side from the back of the scrum and the Wallabies got away with their clever tactic.

“The Australians changed their set-up, they came a bit closer which gave them more shoulder contact before the engagement. It disrupted us and we found it very difficult to set the scrum. Sometimes it is difficult to adapt and they were able to come at us early in the scrums in the second half,” scrum coach Pieter de Villiers said on Monday.

Much has been written about Louw’s leadership qualities, the 30-year-old having done a marvellous job as captain of Bath. He was another experienced old head who was sorely missed in the final quarter in Brisbane, not least of all because of his work at the breakdown, especially since the Wallabies brought on David Pocock to partner Michael Hooper and turn the tide in another area of previous Springbok dominance.

Louw left the field because of a bad gash to his cheek, but doctor Craig Roberts said on Monday that he will be fine to play against the All Blacks this weekend.

A less-obvious facial blow was suffered by Burger, whose cheekbone apparently popped out when he blew his nose after the game. The veteran loose forward went for a scan on Monday and the news is apparently not good, given the hurried announcement from the Springbok camp on Monday night that an interim captain will be announced on Tuesday afternoon.

If Burger is ruled out, then it seems Louw, his former Western Province team-mate, will beat him to become the Springboks’ 55th Test captain.

Amidst all the injury negativity, one of the most positive aspects of the Rugby Championship opener was the return to top form of the two Du Plessis brothers and Mtawarira. Hard, experienced men such as them will be needed at the World Cup.

“We’re very happy with the way the scrums started off. Heyneke had faith in the Sharks front row and we’re very happy they came through because they were under pressure.

“Jannie had a very good game, his work-rate was good and in the previous game too. He scrummed very well, so we’re very happy with that. No player is ever in top shape for the whole year.

“Beast also scrummed very well and I thought Heinke van der Merwe, for someone who hasn’t played for the Springboks for a long time, did very well too,” De Villiers said.

The match against Australia provided the opportunity for some fringe players to stake their claim for the World Cup squad and nobody took their chance better than Lood de Jager, who replaced Matfield after 20 minutes.

“We wanted to use the match for rotation, for guys to get game time. Some players got a bit of experience and that will be great for the World Cup.

“The plan was always to rotate guys up front because it’s in the best interests of the team for players to get game time and enough match fitness.

“Lood gave a great little performance, he was strong in the scrum and great overall, making several tackles. He had a very high work-rate,” De Villiers said.

Doctor Roberts also announced that flank Marcell Coetzee is likely to miss Saturday’s game due to a big contusion to the muscles around the knee, while he confirmed that Jean de Villiers, who came through 60 minutes for Western Province at the weekend “fairly well”, Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Frans Steyn and Pieter-Steph du Toit will all continue their rehab with the Springbok squad but are not ready to play yet.

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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