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Ken Borland

Otaegui takes advantage of friendly conditions with superb 62 0

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Ken


Spaniard Adrian Otaegui took advantage of the friendlier conditions available at the start of the second round of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday, shooting a superb eight-under-par 62 to claim a two-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the co-sanctioned tournament.

Otaegui was in the first three-ball off at 6.40am and he set the tone for his round with birdies on the par-four second and third holes. Five birdies in a row from the eighth saw him surge up the leaderboard and he then made twos at both of the par-threes on the back nine, before bogeying the last to finish on 11-under for the tournament.

“We were first to tee off this morning and the conditions were perfect. I like playing that early and I did really well. I made a lot of birdies and I’m happy with my round. It was a good round from the beginning.

“The greens were perfect, because we opened the course. They were good yesterday, but when you play first the course is in very good condition and you can take advantage,” Otaegui said after his best round on the European Tour.

South African Merrick Bremner is two shots back at nine-under-par after a typically attacking approach brought him a four-under-par 66. He started his round at the 10th hole but was level-par for the day after a bogey on the first, but four birdies would come in his last six holes to leave him alone in second place.

While joint overnight leader Morten Orum Madsen would come undone with two double-bogeys in his first four holes and successive bogeys around the turn, leaving him six shots off the pace on five-under, David Horsey kept himself in strong contention.

The Englishman started on the 10th and put a double-bogey on the fourth behind him as he collected two birdies coming in to finish on eight-under, in a tie for third with South Africans Keith Horne and Trevor Fisher Junior, and Italian Edoardo Molinari.

Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader Andy Sullivan had an icky round of 71 to miss the cut, while it also all went wrong for Lindani Ndwandwe, who posted a promising 68 in the first round before a run of five successive bogeys from the third hole saw him shoot 79 on Friday and also miss the cut.

The in-form Wallie Coetsee had steadily climbed the leaderboard with four birdies as he stood on the 18th tee tied with Bremner on nine-under, but then suffered a major blow as his tee-shot found one of the numerous bunkers on a hole that is usually a par-five but is a par-four in this tournament.

The lapse led to a double-bogey which pushed Coetsee back down to seven-under, in a tie for seventh with fellow South Africans Dean Burmester and George Coetzee.

Conditions were definitely trickier on the second day at Pretoria Country Club, with sunny and warm conditions speeding up the greens and a capricious breeze making club selection tricky.

“I found the wind quite tricky. It was really swirling in completely opposite directions and I got a lot of clubs wrong compared to yesterday. You’re trying to make birdies with wedges in your hand and you’re hitting it five or 10 metres short because the wind changes on you. That can get quite frustrating. I think the wind was the biggest factor in why the scores weren’t that low,” Horne said after his 67.

Otaegui, who learnt the game at the same Real Golf Club de San Sebastian as former Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal, who is also his mentor, said Pretoria Country Club suited him.

“I like these type of courses that are old-style and have trees, so that you have to place the ball. You don’t need to hit it far, but rather put it in a place where you can attack the pins. Even if I missed a few tee shots today I hit some good irons and gave myself birdie chances,” the 22-year-old said.

He may be on top of the leaderboard at the moment, but Otaegui is not getting ahead of himself as he eyes his first top-three finish on the European Tour.

“I’m happy, but we still have a lot of way to go. It’s just 50% of the tournament and so many things can happen. I just have to be patient tomorrow. Let’s see if I’ve learnt something from these last two rounds,” he said.

Molinari, a two-time European Tour winner and a former Ryder Cup player, was slow out of the gate as he started on the 10th, only making his first birdie on the 18th hole. But he also picked up shots on the first and on his last two holes to put himself amongst the leaders.






Otaegui’s 62 sees the Spaniard into the lead in Tshwane Open 0

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Ken


A wonderful round of eight-under-par 62 by Spaniard Adrian Otaegui saw him claim a two-stroke lead after the second round of the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday.

Otaegui, who grew up in the same northern Spanish seaside resort town of Fuenterrabia as Jose-Maria Olazabal and is mentored by the former Ryder Cup captain, went out in the first three-ball of the day and conquered the parklands course with five successive birdies from the eighth hole.

“We were first to tee off this morning and the conditions were perfect. I like playing that early and I did really well, made a lot of birdies and I’m happy with my round. It was a good round from the beginning, the greens were perfect because we opened the course. They were good yesterday, but when you play first the course is in very good condition and you can take advantage.

“I like these type of courses that are old-style and have trees, so that you have to place the ball. You don’t need to hit it far, but rather put in a place where you can attack the pins. Even if I missed a few tee shots today, I hit some good irons and gave myself birdie chances,” Otaegui said after his best round on the European Tour.

Pretoria Country Club was a tougher prospect on the second day, with a gentle but capricious breeze, and first-round leaders Morten Orum Madsen and David Horsey both slipped down the leaderboard.

Englishman Horsey managed to limit the damage with a one-under-par 69 that leaves him on eight-under, three behind Otaegui and one behind second-placed South African Merrick Bremner, who produced a four-under-par 66 to go to nine-under.

Madsen, from Denmark, knew he was in for a tough day as he double-bogeyed the first and fourth holes. He dropped further shots on the ninth and 10th, before cruising to three successive birdies, picking up another shot on 17, but then stalling with a bogey on the last to finish with a two-over 72, six shots off the pace.

Bremner motored to the end of his round, which started on the 10th, with four birdies in his last six holes to reach the halfway stage of the tournament alone in second place, to show that big drivers of the ball can still succeed on the tight course, providing they are accurate.

The best of the afternoon rounds would come from Trevor Fisher Junior, fresh off a breakthrough win in last weekend’s Africa Open. The South African had four successive birdies from the sixth hole to set up a 66 that lifted him to eight-under for the tournament, in a tie for third with Horsey, Keith Horne and Edoardo Molinari.






Englishman & Spaniard lead, but locals well-positioned 0

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Ken

Englishman Matt Ford and Spaniard Edoardo de la Riva are leading the way after the second round of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club on Friday, but four South Africans are just below them, well-positioned to continue the history of local success in the co-sanctioned Sunshine/European Tour event.

Ford, who held a share of the overnight lead with Kevin Phelan, shot a brilliant six-under-par 66 on Friday to go to 11-under-par, one stroke ahead of De la Riva, who also fired a 66 to move to 10-under.

But the South African presence is strong with Jaco van Zyl and Erik van Rooyen in a tie for third with Frenchman Gregory Havret on eight-under, and Trevor Fisher Junior and Neil Schietekat in a tie for sixth on seven-under-par with Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer, Mark Tullo of Chile and Englishmen David Howell and John Parry.

One of the many attractions of East London Golf Club is the multitude of different challenges it can present depending on the weather conditions, and golf here is never boring.

After a blustery first day, the wind switched direction on Friday and calmed down, before regaining strength again in the afternoon.

As Ford pointed out, on the 12th hole on Thursday he hit a driver and four-iron to reach the green, whereas on Friday he hit a driver and then holed a 50 degree wedge for an eagle.

“The wind was just starting to pick up, but the course was very different today and very scorable because conditions were slightly easier. I just wanted to hit good shots and take advantage, and I gave myself lots of opportunities – I was inside 15 feet 11 times but I had a couple of missed putts,” Ford said.

Van Zyl, who has a tremendous record at East London Golf Club, said the course keeps you honest, as shown by his first round when he was three-over on the front nine, before fighting back brilliantly to post a 70.

“This is a very difficult golf course because there are so many different elements. I wasn’t too shocked by my start because the smallest mistake gets magnified a hundred times by this course. But it was really nice to bring it back and today it was much easier in the morning and I was able to capitalise on quite a few holes,” Van Zyl said.

Of all the men in the top-10, Van Zyl has the most experience of winning, except for former world top-10 golfer Howell, and the 13-time Sunshine Tour winner is determined to keep knocking on the door.

“I’ve got to take it one shot at a time and not get ahead of myself. But if I give myself as many opportunities as I can to win, then it has to happen some time. But you’ve obviously got to play nicely and being in contention brings different pressures and expectations. But life will become a lot easier once I get a co-sanctioned win under the belt,” Van Zyl said.

The 36-year-old said it was far from his best ball-striking day, but improved form with the putter means he is strongly in contention midway through the R14.5 million event.

“I’m probably at about 70% of how well I can drive, but now I’m making the putts. I had 27 yesterday and 25 today. Yesterday was really tough though and I was very chuffed I managed to shoot two-under. It was a lot easier this morning, it was totally different today, a lot of the holes were into a little breeze but there were still quite a few holes to capitalise on,” Van Zyl said.

Phelan slipped far down the leaderboard with a level-par 72 and now trails Ford by six shots, while Richard Bland, tied third overnight, also could not break par.

If Van Zyl falters, then Schietekat and Van Rooyen are a pair of younger South Africans for whom there are high hopes and they could get the job done to ensure the trophy stays at home for an eighth year.

“It was quite nice to have some calm weather this morning but I’m not hitting the ball exactly the way I want to. But my putting got me out of trouble and the draw worked nicely for me. Maybe something will happen this weekend … ” Schietekat said.

“I played well at Joburg Open last week and I’m putting really nicely. I couldn’t have asked for a better result today and I’m right in there,” a delighted Van Rooyen said after his 66.

Bad joke for local contingent at Africa Open 0

Posted on October 23, 2015 by Ken


European golfers have dominated the opening day of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club, with an Irishman, seven Englishmen, a Frenchman and a Spaniard all in the top 13 in what is certainly a bad joke for the local contingent.

South African golfers have won all seven previous editions of the Africa Open, but they are going to have a hard time keeping the trophy at home this time around, with just three golfers – Neil Schietekat, Oliver Bekker and Trevor Fisher Junior featuring high up the leaderboard.

Ireland’s Kevin Phelan, who has been tipped as one of the rising stars of European golf, claimed three successive birdies from the fifth hole, having started on the ninth, to post a five-under-par 67 and claim the lead. The 24-year-old has been in good form in his second full season on tour, finishing in a tie for second in last week’s Joburg Open after shooting a 66 on the final day.

He was joined late in the day by Matt Ford, who had been to qualifying school nine times before finally claiming his card last year. The Englishman posted a 66 on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, and yesterday he was arguably even more impressive in shooting a bogey-free 67 in blustery conditions on the East Coast.

The English dominance of the summer continued with Richard Bland, David Howell and John Parry all in the tie for third on four-under-par, alongside Schietekat, the leading South African, and Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva, who started in the most brilliant fashion with an eagle at the first and three more birdies before a double-bogey at the ninth halted the momentum.

Bekker and Fisher Junior are in the group on three-under, with England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, the former world number one amateur, his compatriots Tom Lewis and Chris Lloyd, and Frenchman Gregory Havret.


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