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Ken Borland



Koro Creek’s Ahlers takes the Investec bonus pool 0

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Ken

 

The members of Koro Creek Golf Estate in Modimolle are probably still celebrating after their representative, Jaco Ahlers, claimed the second-biggest paycheque on the Sunshine Tour by winning the Chase to the Investec Cup final at the Lost City on Sunday, thereby winning the R3.5 million bonus pool for topping the standings at the end of the season-long competition.

While Ahlers was celebrating the best day of his golfing career, there was bitter disappointment for Jaco van Zyl, who lost in a playoff that was only decided on the third trip down the 18th hole, and for overnight leader George Coetzee, who bombed out of contention with a double-bogey on the 17th.

Playoffs are nervewracking affairs at the best of times and Van Zyl recovered magnificently on their second trip down the 18th after putting his drive into the water down the right-hand side of the fairway and then leaving his third in the hazard in front of the green. But he did not get lucky a second time when his third playoff drive went in the same spot and his third shot, after dropping, was in the water in front of the green.

Ahlers, having slotted a pair of five-foot putts to halve the first two playoff holes, calmly slotted a six-footer for par to claim the spoils and continue his excellent record in playoffs.

“I was pretty calm. Three 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. It’s amazing to win and I still haven’t had time to think about it, really. I just wanted to win, I wasn’t thinking about the money, but we have just bought a house so it will help,” Ahlers said.

Although Van Zyl was not able to clinch the deal, he was philosophical about the loss, saying the 18th was not the sort of hole that suited his game and all he could think about was ‘do not hit the ball right into the water’.

The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner played superbly, however, just to make the playoff with four birdies in the last five holes.

Ahlers matched Van Zyl, an eagle on the fourth, with two birdies either side of it, and three birdies in a row from the 11th laying the foundation for his 66.

Coetzee still had a share of the lead after his third birdie of his round on the par-four 14th, but he was not able to hang on to it as a wretched drive on the 17th, which was so far left it was almost in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, led to a double-bogey.

Even a remarkable birdie on the 18th was not enough. His drive was far left in the waste bunker and a well-struck wood from there just ran out of green and went into the water. Coetzee dropped and then sank his fourth from the fringe.

*Lee-Anne Pace was not challenged over the three days of the Investec Cup for Ladies and strolled to an eight-stroke victory on Sunday, also winning the bonus pool for the second year in succession.

Coetzee struggles but still leads Investec Cup 0

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Ken

George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl were the final two-ball in the third round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final at the Lost City on Saturday, but both had their problems to leave the race for the massive bonus pool wide open in the last tournament of the Sunshine Tour’s lucrative summer swing.

Coetzee, who led Van Zyl by two shots after the second round, battled to a one-under 71 and his lead is still two shots. But Van Zyl is no longer second, having struggled to a one-over 73 that saw him drop back to three-under for the tournament, four behind Coetzee and in a tie for fourth with Jaco Ahlers (68), Tjaart van der Walt (69) and Chris Swanepoel (69).

Charl Schwartzel, whose shoulder gave him no obvious problems on Saturday, picked up three birdies on the back nine to shoot 70 and climb into third place on four-under.

But the round of the day came from Jbe’ Kruger, who blazed around Sun City’s lesser-known but tremendous course in just 65 strokes to jump to five-under overall, in second place just two strokes behind Coetzee.

The diminutive Kruger and the burly Ahlers made their moves early, but their rounds were still played in a blustery wind as a storm rumbled nearby but missed the Sun City complex.

Kruger made an almost-immediate impression with a superb string of five successive birdies from the third hole, needing just 10 putts on the front nine as he went out in 31. He picked up another birdie on the tricky par-four 14th, before birdies on 16 and 18 sandwiched his only bogey, on the par-four 17th.

Ahlers’ birdies came in much smaller families, with a pair on eight and nine and another pair on the last two rounds, and he did not drop a shot in a fine round.

The devout Kruger was remarkably honest about his round.

“I played decent golf but not as well as my score suggests. The good Lord helped me with my putts because I didn’t hit the ball that well but I made every putt from inside 20 feet,” Kruger said.

Coetzee was disappointed with his round, saying his driver and long irons are going to have to sharpen up if he is to win the tournament and the R3.5 million prize that would come his way for topping the final Chase to the Investec Cup standings.

“I’m not that pleased with my round, my driver wasn’t so good today, I struggled with it so I tried to hit a few more long irons, but it just wasn’t there today. Fortunately my short game was pretty good, but my long game is going to have to sharpen up,” Coetzee said.

The 11th and the 18th are the two par-fives on the back nine and both are well-bunkered. But Coetzee bogeyed both with errant tee-shots that went into the thick bush on the 11th and into the reed-lined water hazard on the last.

On the 11th he chipped out sideways after taking a drop, scuffed his fourth just short of the grassy swale that cuts across the fairway and then hit a magnificent fifth shot to a couple of feet from the hole, limiting the damage to a bogey.

“I topped my three-wood  on the 11th and I was very happy to just minimise the damage. I had pretty much accepted a seven there,” Coetzee said.

On 18 he also had to take a drop after a wayward drive, but this time a wonderful long-iron sent his third on to the fringe of the green, 35 feet from the flag. Unfortunately Coetzee sent his first, downhill putt 10 feet past the hole and was not able to sink the return effort, once again suffering a bogey.

“On the front nine I had one or two birdie opportunities that I missed and I made a couple of mistakes that I was able to save par from, so I guess those cancel each other out and I had nine pars going out. But then I had a nice birdie on 10 and I thought ‘now I can get going’, but that momentum came to a stop pretty quickly. At least I did not go backwards though … “ Coetzee said.

And it was not all bad for the 28-year-old as he picked up birdies on the par-three 13th and the par-four 16th.

On the 180-metre 13th, Coetzee was not swayed by the other golfers using seven-iron and he showed his skill by cutting a punched six-iron to five feet from the flag.

In terms of the overall standings, Coetzee is also in first place now, while Kruger and Schwartzel are not eligible for the bonus pool prize because their rankings coming into the final were too low.

Ahlers is poised to strike in fourth place overall, while Van Zyl is going to have to improve on the 67 he shot in the second round at Millvale to improve on his current fifth place.

Jacques Blaauw is on level-par for the tournament and will need to repeat the 61 he shot on the final day of the Tshwane Open last weekend to be sure of winning the bonus pool because he is second in the standings at present.

Trevor Fisher Junior, who led the standings coming into the final, is on five-over in 18th place for the tournament, but is currently third in the overall rankings, so a top-10 finish could see the R3.5 million going into his pocket for the second successive year.

http://citizen.co.za/348462/chase-to-the-investec-cup-final-3rd-round/

Coetzee & Van Zyl on top as Millvale ‘torment’ ends 0

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Ken

 

George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl are at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final, but both are relieved that their torment on the beautiful but treacherous Millvale course is now over as the elite 30-man field relocates to Sun City for the last two rounds on the Lost City course.

Coetzee, who shared the overnight lead with Charl Schwartzel, shot a two-under-par 70 on Friday to go to six-under for the tournament, alone in front and projected to finish first in the Chase to the Investec Cup final standings, which would win him the bonus pool prize of a cool R3.5 million.

Van Zyl, after shooting 73 on the first day, produced Friday’s best round, a five-under-par 67 that lifted him to four-under overall, two shots behind Coetzee.

Both their rounds featured just one bogey, a six on the par-five sixth for Van Zyl and for Coetzee on the seventh, a remarkable effort on a course as tough as Millvale with its slick greens, plenty of water and a tricky wind.

“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with firm greens, the flags tucked away and a lot of water. If you start on the 10th then you have seven really tough holes on the trot from the 15th to the third and you just try for level-par.

“It should be a bit easier at Lost City on Saturday and Sunday, there’s a bit more scoring opportunities. I’m hitting the ball well, so I look forward to that,” Van Zyl, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, said.

“I survived – it was another tough day,” Coetzee said. “I didn’t play as well today, but I scrambled and made pars. I drove the ball better yesterday, but I putted better today. I’m where I want to be, but there’s still a lot of golf to play.”

The Millvale course is hard enough without bad luck playing a part, but Van Zyl’s bogey on six came when a bee landed on his ball on his downswing and he put his second into the water, while Schwartzel, the co-leader after the first round, woke up with a painful shoulder and slipped down the leaderboard after shooting a 74.

It was a good effort by Schwartzel considering every shot had him in pain, but the 2011 Masters champion said he will be forced to withdraw on Saturday if anti-inflammatories can’t get the swelling down.

Schwartzel is four behind Coetzee, alongside Justin Harding, who has produced two sub-par rounds of 71 practically out of nowhere given his recent form.

Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo, all long-time Sunshine Tour pros, are all on one-under-par and in a position to shake up the leaderboard over the weekend.

*Defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, South Africa’s highest-ranked women’s golfer, fired a three-under-par 68 to lead the Investec Cup for Ladies by three strokes over Monique Smit after the first round.

 

 

Pace unbeatable at home, now for the majors! 0

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Lee-Anne Pace will be the hot favourite to defend her title and win the bonus pool when she tees it up in this weekend’s Investec Cup for Ladies at the Millvale and Lost City golf courses in North-West, but South Africa’s top women’s golfer has her mind on making an impact in the majors this year.

The world number 31 is third in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies after her victory in Tuesday’s Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club made it a perfect three wins from three Sunshine Ladies Tour events this summer. Pace said on Tuesday that her preparations for the first major of the year – the ANA Inspiration from April 2 at the famous Mission Hills Country Club in California – could not have gone better.

“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.

Her best finish in a major is a tie for 21st at the 2010 British Open, but Pace will attack this year’s showpiece events with considerably more confidence, especially after her breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour last year at Blue Bay in China, beating the likes of Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Lydia Ko.

“I’d like to creep towards the top-10 in the world rankings and win again on the LPGA Tour, but I really want to attack the majors this year and my sights are set on the British Open at Turnberry in July. That win on the LPGA Tour last October was a big breakthrough because it was against the best in the world and I now know that I can do it in the majors,” Pace, a nine-time Ladies European Tour winner and twice their Player of the Year, said.

Stacy Bregman is South Africa’s second-highest ranked golfer at number 155 in the world and the Johannesburg Country Club star has also foregone overseas competitions in order to compete at home, with Pace saying this shows how the Sunshine Ladies Tour is growing into something that could make an impact on the global stage.

“It’s been important to me for a while to support the local tour and Stacy Bregman feels the same as well. We now have especially good sponsors on board like Investec, and hopefully the tour can get even bigger and we can get co-sanctioned events like the men.

“There are endless possibilities and this year’s tour has had a lot more exposure and interest and there’s been a lot more players, including a couple from England. Hopefully they can get the word out and even more overseas players will come,” 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.

Bregman and Pace are both chasing Melissa Eaton for the R250 000 bonus pool prize for finishing first in the Investec Cup standings, with Eaton currently 33 points ahead of Bregman and 121.34 in front of Pace. With 1000 points on offer for the winner when the chase ends at the Lost City on Sunday, those deficits are negligible.

It is a tremendous coup for Investec and the Sunshine Tour that both South Africa’s top male and female golfer will be in action.

Ex-Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is taking part and, even though he has a 1160-point deficit to make up on standings leader Trevor Fisher Junior, his focus is on the serious business of preparing for another tilt at the Augusta title from April 9.

The Chase to the Investec Cup is a marvellous exposition of the most consistent South African golfers because it takes into account both the co-sanctioned events and the regular Sunshine Tour tournaments through the winter.

The likes of Fisher Junior, Jacques Blaauw, Danie van Tonder and Jaco Ahlers are the centre of attention as they lead the standings and look to claim the lucrative R3.5 million bonus pool prize this weekend.

It’s a nice reward for their consistency over a long period of time but Schwartzel and other international stars like George Coetzee and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen will be out to wreck their payday.

Fields (with points)

Men (1500pts for winner) – Trevor Fisher Jnr 2207.65; Jacques Blaauw 2095.92; Danie van Tonder 1800.69; Jaco Ahlers 1675.95; Dean Burmester 1515.87; Jean Hugo 1491.79; Keith Horne 1439.58; Wallie Coetsee 1435.99; Jaco van Zyl 1431.50; Ulrich van den Berg 1415.25; George Coetzee 1378.50; Tjaart van der Walt 1357.25; Jared Harvey 1161.04; Charl Schwartzel 1047.00; Neil Schietekat 1025.63; Titch Moore 982.51; Erik van Rooyen 978.53; Adilson da Silva 963.35; Morten Orum Madsen 959.17; Oliver Bekker 937.74; Merrick Bremner 929.96; Darren Fichardt 920.57; Rhys West 884.33; Haydn Porteous 879.74; Justin Harding 853.55; Louis de Jager 803.37; Jbe’ Kruger 801.00; Chris Swanepoel 726.58; Shaun Norris 714.26; Christiaan Basson 680.88.

Women (1000pts for winner) – Melissa Eaton 1021.34; Stacy Bregman 988.33; Lee-Anne Pace 900.00; Nicole Garcia 738.50; Bonita Bredenhann 588.00; Lucy Williams 568.10; Nobuhle Dlamini 559.48; Kim Williams 558.66; Monique Smit 482.50; Monja Richards 410.83.

 



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