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Ken Borland

Lions victory due in no small part to Jantjies masterclass 0

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ken


The Lions roared into the SuperRugby final with a 42-30 victory over the Highlanders at Ellis Park on Saturday due in no small part to a masterclass in flyhalf play by Elton Jantjies.

Jantjies was his usual brilliant self with ball in hand, scoring one try and setting up another for wing Courtnall Skosan with a dazzling blindside break from his own 22, while he was once again reliable kicking for poles, nailing four conversions and three penalties from his eight shots at goal. He was also strong defensively, holding his channel well and it was his hit in midfield in the 24th minute that provided the loose ball for centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg to score and increase the Lions’ lead to 17-3.

But it was his tactical kicking that was at another level in Saturday’s semifinal as the Lions consistently cleared any danger in their own 22, nullifying the strong kicking game of the Highlanders and driving them back in the territory battle, as well as turning their defensive line around very well.

Jantjies said it was due to getting the decision-making right on the day.

“It’s a privilege to play with this group of players and it just came down to making the right decisions. You look to create opportunities and you hope the gap opens up, otherwise you kick. I just play what is in front of me,” Jantjies said. “I just enjoyed it out there, we worked hard at playing at huge intensity and to go for the whole 80 minutes, which we needed to do.”

Coach Johan Ackermann was more forthcoming in praising his flyhalf general.

“It was very important that we did well at the exits, as shown by the one time we let it slip and the Highlanders scored. In general we were accurate at our exits, and decision-making goes hand-in-hand with that. The kicking and passing games were both good tonight, and now’s the right time for players like Elton to be in really good form,” Ackermann said.

Jantjies had some bad defensive misses when playing for the Springboks against Ireland in the June internationals to raise some question marks over that area of his game, but the 25-year-old was excellent in defence on Saturday and put it down to hard work during the week.

“I’ve had a few challenges, but this week I did a lot of one-on-one tackling work, I focused on that,” Jantjies said.

The Lions will now fly to Wellington on Sunday night, arriving midnight on Monday, and one of the features of the final will be the battle of the flyhalves between Hurricanes star Beauden Barrett and Jantjies, probably the two most in-form number 10s in the world right now.

But Jantjies was not going to be drawn on that match-up.

“I don’t have individual battles, it’s all about the team and just making sure I do my job for the team. The Hurricanes and Beauden Barrett are playing good rugby, and obviously they’re one-up on us after giving us 50 points at Ellis Park a few months ago. But we learnt a lot from our last game against them and we played some good stuff tonight. But we will have to reassess again on Monday,” Jantjies said.

Ackermann said he was content going to Wellington for a chance to put the cherry on top of what has already been a historic season for the Lions – their best ever in SuperRugby.

“Three years ago this week we were playing promotion/relegation and now this week we’ve made the final, which is really stunning. In finals, I believe everyone has a chance, they’re 50/50. Yes, we have to travel, but we won three out of four games last year and two out of three this year on the road, so this team loves to be together and to travel.

“It’s a once-off game and, as the Highlanders reminded us when they came into our changeroom after the game, they won there in Wellington last year. The pressure is on the Hurricanes, it’s a home game for them,” Ackermann said.

Brilliant Fisher Jnr roars to victory at Africa Open 0

Posted on November 02, 2015 by Ken


Trevor Fisher Junior roared to victory by five strokes in the Africa Open at East London Golf Club on Sunday, shooting a brilliant eight-under-par 64 to consign Englishman Matt Ford to second.

Ford, who led after the first two rounds, did little wrong but his five-under-par 67 was no match for Fisher Junior’s superb round, which gave one of the most popular golfers on the Sunshine Tour a long-awaited European Tour exemption.

The Johannesburg-based golfer expressed his joy at what could be a breakthrough triumph.

“I’ve tried so hard to get that European Tour card, for so many years. Obviously it’s a massive step for my career because that’s where all South African golfers want to be,” Fisher Junior said.

The crucial moment came on the par-four ninth hole when Fisher Junior fired a four-iron 10 feet from the flag and sank the birdie putt, while Ford missed a six-foot putt for par, leaving him three shots behind.

It proved too big a mountain for the European Tour rookie to climb and Fisher Junior was all class in holding off third-placed internationals Morten Orum-Madsen, Jorge Campillo and Eduardo de la Riva as well.



Some things old & something new working for Grace 0

Posted on February 05, 2015 by Ken

A new putting grip but a return to the old driver and caddy is starting to pay rich dividends for Branden Grace as he roared into the lead in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Thursday with a magnificent 10-under-par 62.

Grace breezed past fellow South African Jake Roos, who shot a superb seven-under-par 65 in the morning, to lead the European Tour co-sanctioned event by three strokes, with a pair of Englishmen, rookie Matt Ford and Sun City champion Danny Willett, lurking on six-under-par.

Grace’s last triumph came in the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrew’s and his world ranking has plummeted to 117, but he did finish 31st in last season’s Race to Dubai. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old is determined to recapture the glories of 2012 and has made the perfect start to his 2015 European Tour campaign.

“I’ve been playing well for the last month, I’m in a really good state of mind, I’ve gone back to my 2012 driver and I changed to a claw-grip on the greens three months ago, so that’s just getting better. Plus it was obviously a mistake in 2013 to part ways with Zack [Rasego, his caddy], but I’ve learnt from that, we’ve had a good chat and that was the end of it. When he pulls me off a shot, I trust him,” Grace said after his faultless round.

The back nine, with its three par-fives, is traditionally the place to cash in at Leopard Creek and Grace collected six birdies, but he was also brilliant on the front nine, birdieing the first, third, sixth and seventh holes.

“It’s one of those courses where you can get going and I didn’t really make any mistakes. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a look at a bogey in my round, but it’s nice to get the ball-striking going and make a few putts. It was good shot after good shot, I like this course, it suits my game,” a delighted Grace said.

Willett was also never in the market for bogey as he cruised to his 66 and he will look to challenge Grace when he tees off early on the second day.

Roos, playing his first event with a fully-fledged European Tour card, also had a fine day with a dream start as he started on the par-four 10th and promptly holed his second from 163 metres with a five-iron for eagle.

“The first hole, when I holed out with my second, was just the ice-breaker I needed. The five-iron came out perfectly, it looked good all the way but I couldn’t see because of the slope of the green. One guy put his hand up at the green and I just started laughing and took it from there,” Roos said after his fabulous round.

“I felt good about the day, I was comfortable, swinging nicely and I had some great birdie putts on the back nine, where there are more birdie opportunities. The front nine is quite tough, especially the opening holes. Six is the only really short one and I was able to take advantage there, and then I had a nice putt on the last from 15-20 feet. The ninth is playing long and I had to hit a six-iron in, a bit into the wind. But I was rolling the putts very nicely today.”

There are, however, prices to pay on this highly-rated course if golfers are off-line, as Charl Schwartzel discovered in another up-and-down round that featured four bogeys and seven birdies for a three-under 69. Another of the favourites, Louis Oosthuizen, is also on three-under.


Tremendous Willett roars to victory at Sun City 0

Posted on January 18, 2015 by Ken

Danny Willett roared to victory by four shots at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday, firing a tremendous six-under-par 66 in the final round at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.

UPDATE: Nedbank Golf Challenge: The Sun City showdown

Willett is the first rookie winner since Zimbabwean Mark McNulty in 1986 and he breezed past overnight leader Luke Donald, who endured a frustrating birthday as he battled to a one-over-par 73 and dropped to third.

Ross Fisher posted a fine four-under-par 68 to climb into second place, two ahead of Donald, but even talk of him overtaking Willett was made foolish by the 27-year-old’s superb display.

Whenever he was under pressure, he produced a wonderful save and once he birdied the par-five 14thfrom the sand, he was able to cruise to victory, even being able to take a comfort break on the 17thfairway.

Willett gained another birdie on the par-four 17th, draining a 15-foot putt that vouched for his brilliance with the short stick all day.

Donald erred for one last time on 18 to sum up his day, sending his drive way right into long grass and rocks, forcing him just to chip out on to the fairway, from which he completed a bogey.

The three men from England just beat a storm to complete their rounds, thunder ringing out as the final putts were made; but it was Willett who stole the thunder from all-comers.

Willett was in pole position with a four-shot lead as the Nedbank Golf Challenge entered the final straight.

The English trio of Willett, Donald and Fisher made up the final three-ball and were the only golfers who had a realistic chance of claiming the title and the first-prize cheque of $1.25 million.

Donald began the day with a one-stroke lead over Willett, with Fisher another two shots back.

But Willett roared out of the blocks, his list of birdies in the first five holes earning him a comfortable lead, which he built on with another shot gained at the par-five 10th, taking him to 16-under through 12 holes.

Fisher, who won the Tshwane Open in Centurion earlier this year, was tied for second place on 12-under with Donald after going out in two-under 34 thanks to consecutive birdies at the eighth and ninth holes.

The tall 34-year-old then drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but a wayward drive on the 11th, rebounding off the trees but not allowing him a shot at the green with his second, led to a bogey.

Donald also clawed a shot back when he birdied the par-five ninth after laying up – Willett getting on in two but misreading his eagle-putt – but the former world number one immediately gave the stroke back with a bogey at 10, a visit to a fairway bunker which he couldn’t initially get out of costing him an extra shot.

The fickle fortunes of golf were clearly displayed in the opening holes of the final round as Willett snatched a three-shot lead.

Overnight leader Donald must have been contemplating what a harsh mistress the game can be as, on his birthday, he bogeyed two of the first five holes and watched Willett fire his way to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies.

And just to top his frustration, Donald birdied the par-four sixth after a super approach shot but watched Willett escape from trouble as he salvaged a par with a brilliant up-and-down after being embedded in the bunker behind the green.

Willett had a perfect record from the fringe, a delightful chip down the hill on the par-five second setting up a birdie and the 27-year-old then rolled in birdie putts from the fringe on the third and fifth holes, both par-fours.

Donald’s 10-foot birdie putt on the sixth pulled one stroke back after bogeys on the third and fifth holes led to a pair of two-stroke swings with Willett.

On the third, Donald put his approach into the bunker left of the flag, short-siding himself, and an awkward lie meant he could only chip across the green. The birthday boy, celebrating his 37th, short-sided himself again on the fifth with a wayward approach shot over the green.

Fisher would have been perfectly happy with his start as a 10-foot putt on the par-three fourth gave him his second birdie. But successive bogeys then undid those gains, his approach on the fifth finishing short of the green and a wayward drive on six, followed by his third shot going over the green, led to another dropped shot, leaving him five behind Willett.

Frenchman Alexander Levy was also contemplating the vagaries of the game as he took 10 at the par-five ninth, twice hitting from the drop zone into the water surrounding the green. To his credit, he was still smiling as he trudged off the green and he birdied the 10th and 11th holes.

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    James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

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