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Ken Borland

Beaming Manassero lights up the Glendower gloom with redemptive triumph 0

Posted on March 10, 2024 by Ken

A beaming Matteo Manessero holds the Jonsson Workwear Open trophy in the dark at Glendower Golf Club after his first DP World Tour triumph in nearly 11 years.
Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

Matteo Manassero’s beaming smile lit up the gloom at Glendower Golf Club on Sunday evening, almost shining as brightly as the not-so-distant lightning strikes as the Italian won the Jonsson Workwear Open by three strokes to win for the first time on the DP World Tour since May 2013.

Manassero had every reason to be ecstatic, considering the journey he has traversed. And while a three-strokes win sounds like an easy victory, his triumph was as dramatic as they come with the 30-year-old having to conquer not only a large chasing pack but also the weather. Manassero had just gone into a one-stroke lead with a 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole when play was suspended due to the threat of lightning. After a two-and-a-half hour delay, he returned to complete the job in near-darkness and with plenty of thunder still around Glendower.

His finish was just as thunderous as Manassero went birdie-birdie to close with four birdies in a row, posting 26-under-par after a 66 in the final round. It was what was needed to hold off the staunch challenge of Thriston Lawrence (63), Shaun Norris (68) and Jordan Smith (68), who tied for second on 23-under.

To understand the magnitude of Manassero’s achievement, one has to know where he has been. The world’s top amateur in 2009, he broke a host of records for the youngest to achieve certain landmarks and in 2010 he became the youngest ever winner on the European Tour when he won the Castello Masters in Valencia aged 17 years and 188 days.

In May 2013 he won the PGA Championship at Wentworth for his fourth title and entered the top-30 in the world rankings, all before he turned 21.

And then his career nose-dived. By the end of 2018 he had lost his European Tour card and ended up on the Alps Tour, two levels down.

He gave up pro golf for a while but then won on the Alps Tour in 2020 and made his way to the Challenge Tour. He won twice last year, opening up a return to the main DP World Tour. On Sunday at Glendower, his redemption was complete.

“It is the best day of my life,” Manassero said as lightning flashed behind his head on the 18th green. “It’s been a crazy journey and I’m so incredibly happy to be here holding this trophy. It feels like it was written somewhere, to finish with those birdies.

“Glendower will stay in my heart forever and I just feel incredible right now, it’s really difficult to put it into words, but I am very proud after what I have been through. I don’t want to think about the tough times now, but there is a lot of emotion.

“Forty minutes ago we were almost coming back tomorrow to finish, so there has been a lot of tension. But I am so happy to be feeling these emotions again out on the golf course. It’s strange, we live for these emotions that take us out of our comfort zone and are difficult to handle,” Manassero said.

The par-three 15th hole was where Manassero’s winning surge began, moments after Lawrence had eagled the 17th to go into the lead on 23-under. But it was also where his challenge looked as if it might have been headed for a watery grave as his tee shot just cleared the water it was heading for, leaving him with a 12-foot birdie putt which he nailed.

“On 15 that could have been in the water. I just tried to hit an easy six-iron, but in golf you cannot predict anything. Sometimes a shot that doesn’t feel great leads to the birdie opportunity that changes everything. But that was more than two-and-a-half hours ago and I have been through a lot of emotion since then!”

Before the weather delay, the co-sanctioned tournament with the Sunshine Tour seemed inexorably headed for a fascinating finish. Manassero admitted that his many challengers were in his thoughts.

“The guys behind me on the leaderboard were playing some incredible golf. Every time I looked at the leaderboard, there was a different guy and more birdies. There was always someone chasing me.”

And Manassero himself was chasing a DP World Tour victory of enormous personal magnitude. Having fallen into the trap of chasing results and outcomes, instead of focusing on process, during his first career as a professional golfer, the product of Verona also admitted that, of course, he had thoughts of winning right through the final round.

“There’s always a bit of back-of-forth in your mind, that is normal. But you also try and think other thoughts, really anything that is positive, things that I say to myself to help me play more freely. But to think about the result is normal, just not constantly because then it becomes really hard to express yourself and hit the ball straight,” Manassero explained.

While Lawrence and Norris led the South African challenge, Oliver Bekker was also a member of the chasing pack, a birdie on the 17th putting him one shot off the lead. But the 39-year-old then hit his approach on the 18th into the water next to the green, finishing with a double-bogey that left him in a tie for sixth on 21-under-par.

Australia call into service all their ruthlessness, precision & nous; SA follow-on almost certain 0

Posted on November 17, 2023 by Ken

Australia called into service all the ruthlessness, precision and nous of their ace bowling attack to leave South Africa reeling on 149 for six, the follow-on now almost certain, at the end of the fourth day of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

With rain having washed out the entire third day’s play and the fourth morning, and Australia declaring on their overnight score of 475 for four, the Proteas were left with five sessions to survive, the follow-on target of 276 their prime objective.

But their top-order was blown away before tea as they slumped to 37 for three, and middle-order resistance in the final session was broken as captain Pat Cummins bowled a wonderful spell of skilful, clever and aggressive fast bowling, using the around-the-wicket option superbly.

Temba Bavuma (35) and Khaya Zondo (39) provided some brave resistance as they added 48 for the fourth wicket, and Zondo and Kyle Verreynne (19) added 45 for the fifth wicket.

Marco Jansen (10*) and Simon Harmer (6*) are at the wicket for the Proteas and will try and prolong the first innings for as long as possible on the final day.

Josh Hazlewood returned to Test action with an immaculate line at brisk pace, and he grabbed his second wicket when he removed the tenacious Bavuma, the batsman edging an unnecessary defensive stroke outside off-stump to the wicketkeeper.

An outstanding yorker from around the wicket by Cummins (14-5-29-3) then accounted for Zondo, trapped lbw, and four overs later, he induced an easy slip catch from Verreynne.

The Australian attack, having five sessions to take 20 wickets to win the Test and claim a 3-0 sweep of the series, as well as assuring themselves of a place in the World Test Championship final, were bang on target from the outset on Saturday.

It made for a torrid time for the Proteas batsmen, especially opener Dean Elgar. The captain scored 15, but most of those runs were off the edge and he lived a charmed life, notably when he edged Hazlewood to Steven Smith at first slip. Smith was diving forward one-handed, but the similarity to the Marnus Labuschagne/Harmer incident on the first day saw third umpire Richard Kettleborough quite rightly disallow the catch because some part of the ball had touched the ground.

But Hazlewood dismissed Elgar four overs later when the left-hander got into a tangle against a well-directed lifter on leg-stump, gloving a catch to the wicketkeeper.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was introduced in the eighth over and he bowled opener Sarel Erwee for 18 in his sixth over, the left-hander making a terrible error of judgement and shouldering arms to a delivery that went straight on to off-stump.

Excellent use of the short ball again by Australia, this time by Cummins, saw the departure of Heinrich Klaasen (2) in the next over, gloving a lifter aimed at his armpit through to the wicketkeeper.

Rickelton’s tremendous century takes Lions to almost certain safety 0

Posted on February 21, 2023 by Ken

Ryan Rickelton’s magnificent century took the DP World Lions to almost certain safety on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the Dafabet Warriors at the DP World Wanderers Stadium on Tuesday.

The wicketkeeper and Proteas Test squad member blazed a fiery 125 off just 112 deliveries to take the Lions to 433 all out, a first-innings deficit of just five runs. The Warriors then batted for 18 minutes before stumps, getting to five for one. They will take a 10-run lead into the final day and the home side will be going all out to dismiss them cheaply on a pitch that is showing some signs of inconsistent bounce with occasional deliveries keeping low.

Rickelton came to the crease with the Lions in control on 187 for three on a glorious sunny day without a cloud in the sky. That handsome position was thanks to an impressive top-order display by the Central Gauteng side.

Openers Josh Richards and Dom Hendricks, who resumed on their overnight score of 19 without loss, took their first-wicket stand to a hefty 123 before Richards was bowled for 60 trying to hit left-arm spinner Tsepo Ndwandwa over the covers.

Captain Hendricks fell for 62 as he was caught behind off Beyers Swanepoel, who found the left-hander’s edge with a fine delivery that moved away late. Wiaan Mulder, who took 28 balls to get off the mark, was most unfortunate to be run out for 4 when a powerful straight drive by Temba Bavuma was deflected into the non-striker’s stumps by bowler Mthiwekhaya Nabe.

But Bavuma was in commanding form and he and Rickelton added 54 for the fourth wicket before the Warriors began making inroads with the ball.

Bavuma was also caught behind the wicket off Swanepoel (22-7-74-3), having scored a fine, free-scoring 67 with 12 fours and a six. Mitchell van Buuren was caught behind for 2 off part-time medium-pacer Matthew Breetzke just before tea, and 241 for three became 320 for eight as Glenton Stuurman (22-4-73-3) struck three times with the second new ball.

At that stage, the Lions were still 118 runs behind and could have left themselves with an anxious final day, but Rickelton, who had looked firmly in control at the crease, then took his innings deep and played some imperious strokes as he belted 11 fours and seven sixes in his third century in five innings in the four-day campaign.

He found an able ally in Lutho Sipamla, who scored a polished career-best 36 as they added a rollicking 84 for the ninth wicket in an hour, all but taking the Lions to parity.

After such batting heroics, Kagiso Rabada could not let the day go by without making a mark of his own, and his second delivery, Jordan Hermann’s first, was the perfect ball to a left-hander, forcing him to play and then just nipping away to find the edge and have him caught behind for a duck.

Kyle Jacobs and Diego Rosier then survived another four overs before the umpires let the batsmen retire to the changeroom due to bad light, shadows moving over the pitch.

Jake paints Bulls as underdogs as they face Munster side trying to get their season going 0

Posted on January 02, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls know it would be stupid to expect any leniency from Munster, as the famous Irish club tries to get their season going, in their United Rugby Championship clash at Thomond Park on Saturday night, with coach Jake White almost painting his side as underdogs.

Based just on the URC log, then the Bulls would clearly be considered as favourites, sitting nicely in fifth place after just one loss in four matches, compared to Munster languishing in 12th spot after just one win in four fixtures.

But White says there is far too much quality and history behind this Munster line-up for them to be taken lightly.

“Everyone in Ireland has been reminding us how tough it is to play at Thomond Park, from breakfast to dinner time. We are getting the whole vibe and hopefully that will help us make sure we’re ready.

“We played poorly last weekend, I’ll be the first to admit, and Munster are a good team, they have massive Test experience in their group. I’m sure they will get themselves up because they’re such a big club.

“They’re like the Liverpool, Man United or Barcelona of rugby because they have won European cups; they are one of the biggest clubs in the world. We’re under no illusions that it will be easy.

“We lost one game and we were rightly hammered as being poor on the night, they have lost three games, so imagine how they are feeling. I’m sure they’re disappointed with where they are at the moment,” White said.

Still, the Bulls must have a reasonable chance of repeating their 29-24 win over Munster at Loftus Versfeld last season, especially with Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Harold Vorster and Wandisile Simelane returning to a star-studded backline, and plenty of physicality up front.

“After a loss like ours against Glasgow, the players tend to rally around and are more focused anyway,” White said. “We had a good training week and we know it’s a massive game.

‘I think we could have some really good combinations with Johan and Embrose both Springboks trying to get back there, and Harold and Lionel Mapoe having played three Super Rugby finals together.

Bulls: Kurt-lee Arendse, Cornel Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Wandisile Simelane, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, WJ Steenkamp, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench – Bismarck du Plessis, Dylan Smith, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Vermaak, Marco van Staden, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, David Kriel.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.

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