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Ken Borland

Stone shows he’s blessed with temperament as well as ‘game’ 0

Posted on December 08, 2016 by Ken


Young Brandon Stone is undoubtedly blessed with a terrific golf game but an equally impressive temperament as he showed on Sunday by blazing his way to a seven-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The 23-year-old began the day with a three-stroke lead over defending champion Charl Schwartzel, who has won the tournament four times, and showed immense composure as South Africa’s number two ranked golfer drew level with him after six holes.

But Stone stuck to his game-plan of staying conservative on the tougher front nine, turning in one-under-par, before obliterating the field on the back nine as he raced to a five-under-par 67, including five birdies, that left him on 22-under-par for the tournament, the second-best winning score ever.

It was the vastly more experienced Schwartzel who disintegrated, a bogey at the par-five 13th, when he wasted a superb drive by taking two shots to get out of a greenside bunker, being followed by a disastrous eight at the par-five 15th and then a double-bogey on the par-three 16th after more water trouble.

In fact, Stone stared down all his challengers, with Keith Horne and Chris Hanson both fading to 76s for 10-under overall, while Benjamin Hebert could only manage a level-par 72 to finish in a tie for fourth on 12-under and David Drysdale shooting a 73 to finish on 10-under.

Richard Sterne, second on 15-under-par after a 67, and young Belgian Thomas Detry, who finished third in just his fifth European Tour start after a 68, were the chief beneficiaries of the carnage up top the leaderboard.

“It wasn’t stress free but it feels great and it’s massive to have my name alongside those big ones already on the trophy. It’s probably the best I’ve played, my ball-striking was superb from the first to last hole and there wasn’t a hole where I was really in trouble all week. To shoot 22-under around here is not a simple task, it’s quite something,” a delighted Stone said after his second European Tour triumph following his SA Open win at the start of the year.

A pair of birdies on the sixth and seventh holes were key for Stone as they kept him under par on the front nine, even though he bogeyed the eighth, taking a lot of flak for hitting Driver off the deck.

“On the front nine I was tied for the lead at one stage and it was reminiscent of the SA Open. But I knew my game-plan was to be one or two under for the front nine and then try and score on the back nine and I was able to get some momentum going,” Stone said.

Victory was sealed on the 13th shortly after Schwartzel’s bogey there as Stone narrowly missed his putt for eagle after a superb drive and approach shot to 25 feet, his birdie giving him a five-shot lead.

Stone was just way too hot for the rest of the field on a sweltering 40 degree day in Malelane.


Springboks can’t feel hard done by 0

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Ken


Although it was undoubtedly a valiant effort by the Springboks, they can’t feel hard done by after their exit from the World Cup at the hands of the All Blacks in their semi-final at Twickenham over the weekend.

It is often said that you can’t play rugby without the ball and that is also true of territory: against top defensive patterns like New Zealand have, you’re not going to be causing many problems if you’re playing from your own half all the time.

South Africa only had 33% territory against the All Blacks – in other words two-thirds of the game was played in their own half. We saw magnificent defence from the Springboks, but we didn’t see anything else. As predicted before the game, they could only offer one-off ball-carriers, strong as they were, and no variety to their attacking play.

Much of the territory problems came down to poor exit strategies. When your scrumhalf is chiefly responsible for clearing your lines via a box-kick from the base – which by its very nature is going to be a higher, shorter kick – then you’re not going to be gaining as much ground compared to when your flyhalf, with a bit more space, can fire a long, raking touchfinder off after a couple of phases. It’s become a bugbear of mine, but Handre Pollard has a massive boot, why wasn’t it used more to drive the All Blacks back?!

The Springboks were hoping that their physicality would wear down the All Blacks, but that’s not going to happen when the opposition can match you physically and is better conditioned. In fact, it is the defending champions who did all of the wearing down, because they constantly asked different questions of the defence, as Nick Mallett pointed out.

“The All Blacks tried to attack in a variety of ways – they had Julian Savea coming off his wing, they played off nine, then they tried going to the backs with Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu carrying the ball, then they went to pick-and-goes and they even tried grubbers. They kept on trying different things, which keeps the pressure on the defence. They don’t just have one game plan, they have a whole variety of attacking options and we were beaten by a better team. We were lucky it was a very wet day,” Mallett said on SuperSport after the game.

There is understandably some negativity around South African rugby at the moment, but I believe our glasses aren’t just half-full of talent, they are full to overflowing, as shown by some of the wonderful Currie Cup rugby produced by the Lions, Western Province and Blue Bulls.

Experienced, visionary coaches are a bit thinner on the ground, but appointing Heyneke Meyer as Springbok coach again is not going to take our rugby forward. The high-intensity, ball-in-hand game plan which Meyer flirted with and then ditched is the way forward, but he clearly does not believe in it and/or cannot coach it.

Two of the most promising young coaches in the country, Nollis Marais of the Bulls and John Dobson of Western Province, have both gone on record in the last couple of weeks as saying the Lions’ brand of rugby, which is all about laying a platform up front and then using the ball while playing what is in front of you, is the way forward.

Lady Luck is a fickle mistress in the arena of top-level sport, but she seldom favours the team that isn’t willing to try anything; the team that hardly plays any rugby at all.


Better-backed SA women’s team off to Sri Lanka 0

Posted on November 06, 2014 by Ken

The South African women’s cricket team’s rise from sixth to third in the international rankings is undoubtedly rooted in the better opportunities they now have since being sponsored by Momentum and Mignon du Preez’s side is off on tour again this weekend as they head to Sri Lanka for four ODIs and three T20s.

The women’s Proteas are battle-hardened from their tough tour of world number ones England last month and will want to show how far they have advanced from this time last year when they hosted Sri Lanka and won both the ODI and T20 series.

“We played brilliantly against them here at home, but it’s going to be a different ball game playing them now in their home conditions. Ideally, we want to make sure we improve on those results because it’s the start of the ICC Women’s Challenge and the points are important for us to finish in the top four and automatically qualify for the 2017 World Cup. So it’s one of our most important tours,” captain Du Preez told The Citizen yesterday.

Talented all-rounder Sune Luus has withdrawn from the South African squad because she will be writing her matric exams, but off-spinner Yolani Fourie, the captain of the SA Emerging Players team, has been called up for the first time by the senior side.

The responsibility will now fall on young Dane’ van Niekerk to be the main leg-spinner in the team, but Du Preez believes the pace bowlers will be the strength of the South Africans.

“The Sri Lankans are used to spin, they’ve often played two seamers and five spinners against us, so spin is what they know. But they’re not so used to the speed we can produce and I think our amazing seamers can do something special against them, plus we have swing bowlers too who can move the ball both ways,” Du Preez said.

The women’s Proteas arrive on the sub-continental island on Sunday and the first ODI is on Wednesday at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

Squad: Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Trisha Chetty, Moseline Daniels, Mignon du Preez, Yolani Fourie, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Lizelle Lee, Matshipi Letsoalo, Nadine Moodley, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon, Dane’ van Niekerk.


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