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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/

New scrum laws will boost Argentina’s bajada 0

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Ken

 

Argentina is a rising power in world rugby and they are set to be boosted even further by the new scrummaging laws, which are tailor-made for their famous bajada scrum technique.

 The Springboks will be the first to tackle the Pumas since the introduction of the “crouch, bind, set” scrum engagement when they meet at the FNB Stadium on Saturday and they could be in for a shock.

Argentina was introduced into the Rugby Championship last year and made an impressive entry into the big league, proving plucky opponents as they even managed a draw against the Springboks in Mendoza.

After a largely disappointing third-place finish in last year’s competition, the Springboks will want to get into their stride far quicker this season, but the Pumas’ strength is in the pack and the new scrum laws will only magnify that.

The emphasis at scrum-time will now change from being on the “hit” to technique, something the Argentineans have been famous for and many rugby fans in the South American country are looking forward to the return of the bajada as the potent weapon it used to be.

The bajada is all about the entire pack working as a unit and channelling their power through the hooker, with the speed with which a front row can get the “hit” no longer a factor because they have to pre-bind before the engagement.

The co-ordinated, cohesive nature of the bajada scrum is exactly what the new scrum laws will favour, judging by what Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers said on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a learning process for players worldwide who have practised their trade over the last 10 years with the ‘hit’ scrum and it’s a big change. Speed won’t be as important and the frustration over grey areas in decisions, especially when binds slip, often because of tricks of the trade, has been dealt with.

“It’s now very important for the scrum to stand together and have endurance and it’s become a much tougher battle. It’s more about sound technique and endurance now and it’s more important for your whole pack to work together. The pack operating as a unit is vital,” De Villiers said.

The Springbok scrum has not always lived up to its reputation in recent years and those dastardly Australians who seem to spend their life trying to avoid proper scrums have even taken a couple of pot shots at the South Africans, saying the new laws will expose them more than anyone else.

The new engagement places a higher premium on scrummaging technique rather than skill in winning the “hit” and it is the Springboks’ lack of depth at tighthead prop, the most technical position in the pack, that suggests Saturday night could be a tough time for them.

De Villiers, having played 69 times for France, is well aware that the Pumas are masters of the dark arts of scrummaging.

“Their passion for scrummaging will always be there. They’re short, stocky guys and difficult to move and we expect them to have a strong, stable base at scrum time,” De Villiers said.

Jannie du Plessis is right up there with the best tightheads in world rugby but he has played so much over the last two years that a serious injury seems almost inevitable and there are no other specialist number threes in the Springbok squad. Coach Heyneke Meyer believes the sky is the limit for young Coenie Oosthuizen, the Cheetahs loosehead he is converting into a tighthead.

De Villiers expressed confidence in Oosthuizen’s ability to make the change, if not with the same enthusiasm as Meyer has done.

“Coenie is progressing very well. You must remember everyone is starting with a clean slate now because of the new laws and it’s important to see how Coenie adapts. But even the top tightheads in world rugby have to start afresh,” De Villiers said.

Meanwhile, Springbok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher stressed that despite all the attention focused on the scrums, the Argentines’ backline strengths are not being ignored.

“Most of their backs play in Europe and they are world-class. Given the opportunity, they can finish, their outside backs are quick and have had plenty of exposure to sevens rugby. So we need to prepare well against them too,” Loubscher warned.

Another area where South African has not looked too clever in terms of depth has been scrumhalf and the new lenient approach to choosing overseas-based players made it inevitable that Meyer would call on Fourie du Preez, one of the players he built the champion Bulls team around.

The Springbok coach has made it clear he is relying on Du Preez’s experience and game management abilities to lift their performance and Loubscher said those strengths were already evident on the training field.

“He’s a world-class player, there’s no need to elaborate on his credentials. He just slotted right back in, I was impressed, I thought he did really well in training. He brings great experience to the team, you can see the way he talks with players like JJ Engelbrecht and Willie le Roux, who haven’t played in the Rugby Championship before, and he makes it much easier for me as the backline coach,” Loubscher said.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-14-rugby-dont-cry-for-argentina/#.WDQ6FrJ97IU

Cheetahs go down in flames, but can still rise from the ashes 0

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cheetahs went down in flames against the Stormers at Newlands, but their playoff hopes are still alive thanks to the Sharks rising from the ashes to snatch victory from the Blues in Durban.

Meanwhile, the Bulls maintained their hot form by hammering the Southern Kings in Pretoria with a bonus point, thereby ensuring that they will be the South African conference winners.

The Cheetahs seemed to have the greater motivation heading into their match at Newlands, with an historic first playoff place beckoning, but it was the realistically out-of-contention Stormers who brought the fire as they registered a thumping 28-3 win.

That fire was lit by their forwards, who fronted up impressively, producing a brick wall in defence, dominating the collisions and the set pieces and closing down the space and time the Cheetahs had on the ball.

The Stormers could be accused of stopping the Cheetahs from playing in a dreary first half, which ended with the hosts 10-3 up thanks to a try by flank Deon Fourie from a rolling maul shortly before the break.

But they counter-attacked well in the second half, squeezing the Cheetahs and then pouncing on the mistakes as they picked up two more tries by the indefatigable Siya Kolisi and Bryan Habana.

Kolisi’s 66th-minute try stretched the lead to 23-3 and it came after yet another messy Cheetahs lineout led to the loose ball being kicked through into the 22 by the Stormers. Fourie was then up quickly to force Raymond Rhule to concede the five-metre scrum, a solid platform allowing flyhalf Elton Jantjies to produce a lovely inside step, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder then ran crossfield to fix the defence and the in-form new Springbok flank came crashing through on a tremendous angle.

Poorly directed kicks and handling errors – many of them by Rhule – were central to the Cheetahs’s demise and Habana’s try came after the visitors were enjoying some rare front-foot ball and were hard on attack before the Ghanaian-born wing again dropped the ball and centre Juan de Jongh and eighth man Nizaam Carr broke clear. From the resulting ruck, inside centre Damian de Allende drew the last two defenders before sending Habana diving over in the corner.

One can forgive the Cheetahs for having an off-day after all their heroics this season and captain Adriaan Strauss described it as “our shocker of the year”. But what was perplexing was why the Cheetahs suddenly decided to kick so much – and poorly at that.

Fullback Willie le Roux kicked 10 times and ran the ball on just eight occasions, which must have killed his many fans who see him as the saviour of South African backline play.

In contrast, Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen was lethal whenever he kicked and the ubiquitous efforts of the loose trio of Kolisi, Fourie and Carr epitomised the never-say-die spirit of the home side, who really are playing for pride.

The Sharks, despite being a camp in turmoil after the sacking of coach John Plumtree as incoming CEO John Smit’s first act, were in firm control of their match against the Blues in the first half in Durban.

They were 14-0 up on the half-hour and 17-5 ahead at the break, but their lead should have been even greater given the absolute dominance their forwards enjoyed in the set pieces, especially the scrums.

That lack of finishing – in particular Pat Lambie’s errant goal-kicking that cost them 14 points – came back to haunt them in the second half as the Blues fought back strongly.

The Aucklanders actually led 20-17 going into the final minute, but the Sharks summoned the energy, composure and skill to score on the hooter through fullback Riaan Viljoen and snatch a 22-20 victory.

Stand-in coach Grant Bashford, who is also probably on his way out, revealed that the Sharks team had committed themselves to winning at any cost in protest against the treatment of Plumtree, who was rapidly purged over the June international break.

The forward effort by the Sharks was spectacular as they overwhelmed the Blues in the scrums, earning half-a-dozen penalties from that set-piece alone, won all 17 of their lineouts and consistently carried the ball over the advantage line through the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Willem Alberts and Tendai Mtawarira.

The Sharks did sometimes battle to create enough space for lively Transkei-born wings Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo, but considering seven centres are out injured and Butch James and Louis Ludik were teaming up in midfield for the first time this year, that is understandable.

While the Sharks front row were the destroyers of the Blues, it was the improvement shown by the Bulls front row that was perhaps the most impressive feature of their 48-18, bonus point win over the Southern Kings in Pretoria.

Loftus Versfeld has been a church of strong forward play, especially scrummaging, throughout the union’s 75 years and the flaky performances of the Bulls front row this year has no doubt been a cause of great concern for all those Northern Transvaal stalwarts in the stands.

But apart from the third quarter, the Bulls dominated the scrums, which allowed their bullocking ball-carriers to commit even more violence against the battered Kings defence.

The Kings never threatened the South African SuperRugby pace-setters and director of rugby Alan Solomons confirmed that they were badly off their game after the June break.

“The set piece, defence and conditioning are the three pillars of our game and two of those were very poor tonight. The error rate was also through the roof and some of that was due to not playing for a month. A break that long for a team of this inexperience is massive,” Solomons said.

But the Kings did give full credit to the Bulls, describing them as a team “very capable of winning the tournament” and the home side’s ability to get quick ball from the breakdowns and to pounce on the slightest errors in defence was most impressive.

The Kings, who have officially now been consigned to the promotion/relegation games, contrived to make it easier for the Bulls with some uncharacteristically poor defence around the rucks and, when the Bulls scored three tries in five minutes around the half-hour mark to take control of the game, two of those were through Chiliboy Ralepelle and Francois Hougaard simply picking up the ball at a ruck and strolling straight through a gaping hole on the fringes.

But when you throw in the combative midfield running of centres Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht to the impetus created by the forwards – Jacques Potgieter and Ralepelle shining in this regard on Saturday night – then it’s little wonder defences start fracturing.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-01-superrugby-bulls-marching-on/#.Vz2myfl97IU

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