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Ken Borland



Air of inevitability as Schwartzel wins Tshwane Open 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

 

There was an air of inevitability early in the final round that Charl Schwartzel would win the Tshwane Open, but the world number 43 impressed everybody with the sheer quality of his play to shoot a brilliant 63 and win the co-sanctioned title by a massive eight strokes at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.

An eagle on the par-five ninth hole after a superb second shot from the semi-rough meant Schwartzel was four ahead of Zander Lombard at the turn and huge birdie putts of 40 and 35 feet respectively on the two par-threes coming in, the 14th and 16th, sealed the deal for the former Masters champion.

Young Lombard had started the day just one stroke behind Schwartzel, but wilted as the pressure of playing in the lead two-ball with one of South Africa’s best golfers began to weigh heavily on him, the wheels eventually coming off with double-bogeys on 16 and 17 as the Joburg Open runner-up crashed to a 74 and a share of seventh place.

“On the first three days I hit the ball well above standard but my putting was below standard. So it was very satisfying that the putting came right in the final round, today was a big step forward. I’ve played a lot here and it’s good to play on familiar ground, it makes your chances better. This has certainly boosted my confidence and I’m excited to get back to America,” Schwartzel said.

Schwartzel collected seven birdies and an eagle, offset by two bogeys, to finish on 16-under-par for the lowest score and biggest winning margin in the event’s four-year history. The 31-year-old once again relied on his superior ability with the long-irons to separate himself from the rest of the field to dramatic effect.

“I’ve always had the capability to hit my long-irons longer and more accurately than most golfers, which is a big advantage. It means I can hit a six-iron where others are taking a four-iron, which gives me more loft and allows me to eliminate a lot of unnecessary mistakes. From a young age I’ve been able to hit my long-irons very well,” Schwartzel said.

As Lombard tumbled down the leaderboard after his tee-shot on 16 strayed on to the edge of the moat next to the green, it allowed Denmark’s Jeff Winther to be the sole runner-up as he calmly soared up the leaderboard with a 64 to finish on eight-under-par.

Schwartzel’s other challengers were all washed away in the eddies of his brilliance, with Anthony Michael finishing third after a level-par 70 left him on six-under-par and Haydn Porteous slipped to a 73 and a share of 10th place on three-under-par with Brandon Stone (66) and Jaco van Zyl (67).

Justin Walters, Richard Sterne and Dean Burmester all climbed the leaderboard to finish in a tie for fourth on five-under-par, while Australian Brett Rumford and Scotland’s Jamie McLeary finished with Lombard in seventh on four-under-par.

 

Weddings & golf tournaments – justifying the expense 0

Posted on February 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Golf tournaments are probably second only to weddings when it comes to people questioning whether all the expense is justified, but the City of Tshwane on Tuesday revealed some impressive figures in terms of the return on investment in the Tshwane Open, which was being launched at Pretoria Country Club.

This year’s event will be held from February 11-14 and will be the first of at least two more stagings of the co-sanctioned event in Tshwane, with the city council having renewed their contract and the prizemoney being increased to R18.5 million.

Lee-Anne Bac, a researcher at Grant Thornton who was hired by the City of Tshwane to measure the impact of staging the tournament, said the benefit to the economy over the last two years has been around R140 million, with R39 million direct spend in Tshwane, while Repucom, the sports marketing and sponsorships experts, say the exposure the Tshwane Open received last year was worth more than $8 million.

As Selwyn Nathan, the executive director of the Sunshine Tour, pointed out: “Tshwane haven’t had to pay millions for their name change from Pretoria, like Datsun did when they changed to Nissan, because in the four years of this tournament, hundreds of people every day are asking ‘Where is Tshwane?’ and googling it.”

“The Tshwane Open has exposed our brand to 230 million households around the globe, which can only help grow our economy. People ask why we don’t just spend R30 million on supplying basic services, but the more enduring solution to our socio-economic problems is to grow the economy. Just dishing out social grants won’t work and we need to free people from relying on the state to make them succeed,” Kgosientso Ramokgopa, the executive mayor of the city, said at Tuesday’s launch.

George Coetzee will be back to defend his title on the course he grew up on, while Charl Schwartzel will make a welcome return to action having missed the SA and Joburg Opens due to a virulent stomach virus.

But the new guard of South African golf is making its presence felt and Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Zander Lombard and Christiaan Bezuidenhout will all be teeing it up at Pretoria Country Club.

“I would like to see George win again because he’s been a great ambassador for us, but Zander and Christiaan were runners-up in the two previous co-sanctioned events and Brandon, Charl and Haydn have already been winners this year. If someone new wins, then it provides great opportunity for them with a two-year exemption on the European Tour. It’s a stepping stone to competing internationally and making a name for themselves,” Nathan said.

 

 

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.

 

 

No impatience for Coetzee as he wins Tshwane Open 0

Posted on January 04, 2016 by Ken

There was no panic, no impatience, just a steely determination to stick to the game plan as George Coetzee chased a birdie on the closing holes to win the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.

Fellow South African Jacques Blaauw had earlier blazed his way to a nine-under-par 61 that featured four successive birdies from the sixth hole and two-in-a-row to finish, to post the number – 13-under-par – that Coetzee had to beat.

But Coetzee, having started playing golf at Pretoria Country Club and winning his first tournament there when he was 10, knows all the secrets of the Waterkloof parklands course and he knew patience and sticking to his game plan would eventually pay dividends.

He systematically went through the first five holes in par and then claimed his first birdie at the par-four sixth after a monster drive to just in front of the green. Writing three successive birdies on his card from the eighth hole allowed the 28-year-old to catch Blaauw on 13-under. Then it was just a matter of waiting for one more birdie; it eventually came on the penultimate hole, by which time a lesser golfer may have become impatient.

“I’ve played those first three holes a thousand times and they’re probably the trickiest on the course, and then the fourth they made a par-four this week. So that’s not where I wanted to make my charge, it’s easy to drop shots there, but I knew when I stepped on to the sixth tee that it was time,” Coetzee said.

“Jacques put me under a lot of pressure and there were other guys racing out of the blocks as well. But I had a good game plan mentally and it was just a matter of playing my game and waiting for my birdies to come. Towards the end, I was waiting for 17, which is usually a birdie chance, and the 65 I shot today was the round I’ve been looking to play, it was controlled and how I wanted the day to play out,” Coetzee said.

Coetzee had started the day tied for the lead with five other golfers – fellow South Africans Trevor Fisher Junior and Wallie Coetsee, Englishman David Horsey, Scotland’s Craig Lee and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui.

But it all turned sour for those contenders, none of them being able to break par.

Although Coetzee said before the tournament that the 6459-metre course redesigned by Gary Player in 2004 was not exactly up his street, his delight at winning his second European Tour title at his home club was obvious.

“I loved the fans, when I was growing up you dream about playing in front of galleries like that and the crowd just seemed to get bigger and bigger. There were hundreds of people following our group and I recognised a lot of them. I never thought, as a kid, that I’d be playing a European Tour event at my home club, so it’s unreal to win here,” Coetzee said.

His previous European Tour title was won in Johannesburg 13 months ago, and he has four other Sunshine Tour wins. But this was achieved in different fashion and Coetzee was especially pleased with that.

“In the Joburg Open win, I was behind on the front nine and then ahead on the back nine, so it went from being aggressive to being conservative. Today I had to mix aggression with cleverness and it was nice to make a birdie to win. Most of my previous wins have come from putting very well, but I’m very happy to have my ball-striking come through today. I’m loving my driver,” Coetzee said.

And with good reason because he hit 13 of 14 fairways off the tee in the final round and gave himself several looks at birdie on the back nine. But as the number of holes left diminished, so thoughts turned to whether Coetzee would finally make birdie or push too hard and end up dropping a shot.

Lee, playing in the final two-ball, was just one shot behind but he would drop a crucial shot on the 15th when his drive went too far right on to a bank, from where he had to lay up before the stream crossing the fairway and then missed a 10-foot putt for par.

That meant it was all up to Coetzee to overtake Blaauw.

His drive on 17 went off to the right, into some trees short of the bunkers guarding the green. But the benefits of playing on his home course once again came to the fore.

“It didn’t happen exactly how I wanted, but I know there are gaps between the bunkers there,” Coetzee said after he had played a lovely, delicate chip to within five feet of the hole to set up the birdie that won the Tshwane Open.

http://citizen.co.za/344470/tshwane-open-round-four-final-wrap/

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