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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.

Rassie’s mental strength shines through as not even heatwave dissuades him 0

Posted on August 29, 2022 by Ken

Rassie van der Dussen is known for being a phlegmatic, composed guy, but his mental strength shone as brightly as it ever has in the first ODI against England as not even heatwave conditions that saw other players and spectators require medical treatment could dissuade him as he cruised to a brilliant century that set up victory for the Proteas.

The stadium management in Chester-le-Street issued health warnings to their spectators as temperatures reached 36°C, but Van der Dussen kept his cool, taming the weather and the England attack as he used his three hours at the crease to compile a remarkable 134 off 117 balls.

His best score in Proteas colours led South Africa to their highest ever ODI total in England – 333/5 – and then when the bowlers produced a marvellous all-round display – both the pacemen and the spinners met expectations – victory was completed by 62 runs.

“It was pretty hot out there but not too bad, mid-30s. We’ve just had a tour of India where it was a lot worse,” Van der Dussen said with characteristic understatement after he had met the challenge.

“I just tried to read the situation and adapt. I feel like I have the game and the shot options to put the bowlers under pressure. It was a massive outfield and the wind was quite strong, so it took the six option out for 25 overs.

“We knew we had to play smart cricket, hit the pockets in the field and run hard, make sure we got runs off good balls. The pitch got tough towards the end with the old ball keeping a bit low.

“It was like playing in Bloemfontein in terms of field size and temperature. There was not a lot of bounce and you had to play straight and try and accumulate runs,” Van der Dussen said.

England’s bowlers and fielders looked like they needed medical care as Van der Dussen and Aiden Markram (77 off 61) cut loose in a third-wicket stand of 151 off just 123 balls.

Apart from their meeting against South Africa in the T20 World Cup last November, when the Proteas won by 10 runs but still missed out on the semifinals, the last time England played with much at stake against the Proteas was in 2019/20 when they visited Africa and won the Test series 3-1 and the T20s 3-0 before bailing out of the ODIs due to supposed Covid fears.

South Africa have done much to rehabilitate their image since then and Van der Dussen recognised the importance of the Proteas laying down a marker, while stressing that it was merely the first day of a long tour.

“Obviously it’s a massive result, but it’s only one match on a long tour. We had to prep well, the batting was really good and the bowlers executed brilliantly, and now we will see where we can improve.

“England are still a world-class team, with various matchwinners on their day. But you could see they’ve played a lot of cricket lately, we were a bit more up for it today,” Van der Dussen said.

Titans & Proteas hope De Kock burns as brightly as magnesium oxide 0

Posted on March 15, 2021 by Ken

Quinton de Kock’s five weeks away from cricket – during which time he was relieved of the national captaincy – will come to an end at the Wanderers on Tuesday and both the Proteas and the Titans will be hoping he burns as brightly as magnesium oxide in the final round of Four-Day Franchise Series matches against the Imperial Lions.

De Kock looked in desperate need of a break when he was dismissed for  duck in the second innings of the second Test in Pakistan on February 8, and he no doubt enjoyed all the fresh air and the miles of beaches near his George home when he returned to South Africa.

But it has not been all easy living for the 28-year-old since his last match, with Titans coach Mandla Mashimbyi revealing on Monday that De Kock has been working hard in the nets as he prepares to return to action as the Titans look to nail down their place in the four-day final. The Proteas coaching staff will also be watching because Pakistan will be back here in April for ODI and T20 series.

“Quinny has been lively and he looks happy to be back. He’s been working hard in the nets and has been hitting balls for days. He looks very hungry to do something for the team,” Mashimbyi told The Citizen.

The presence of De Kock, as well as another international wicketkeeper/batsman in Heinrich Klaasen, significantly boosts the Titans batting line-up and there will be white-hot action in store as Kagiso Rabada spearheads the Lions attack.

Rabada’s Proteas new-ball partner Lungi Ngidi is not quite over the knee niggle he picked up in the closing stages of the T20 competition in Durban, so the Titans attack should be much the same to the one that played against the Knights last week.

The Wanderers pitch was the subject of much debate last week as Dolphins left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj recorded the second-best figures ever at the famous ground, his 13 for 174 being second only to Rabada’s 14 for 105 against the KZN side in 2014/15, but Wandile Gwavu, the Lions coach, said the wicket was a good one and he expects the same sort of surface for this game.

“It offered a little bit of turn and Keshav was always going to find it, he once again showed why he is the country’s No.1 spinner, although we should have played him better. But it also offered a lot for the seamers and was good for batting once you got in, and there was a bit of rough on the fourth day.

“This pitch looks very similar, so it should be an evenly-balanced game, although there is a crack or two that could open up in the heat, even though there is a lot of grass covering,” Gwavu said.

While the Titans, who are 14.16 points ahead of the Warriors, are the favourites to win Pool B, the other pool is coming down to the most thrilling of conclusions with the Knights, who visit the Cape Cobras, just 1.16 points ahead of the Dolphins, who travel to play the Warriors.

The two pool winners will contest the final from March 25.

How to make a star with KFC 0

Posted on July 05, 2016 by Ken

 

To make a star one needs enough heat and pressure to start nuclear fusion in a cloud of gas, but in a cricketing sense it’s all about CSA’s pipeline and KFC Mini-Cricket provides the masses of raw material that are necessary to find the ones that will glow brightly on fields around the country in the future.

KFC Marketing Director Thabisa Mkhwanazi says it is the biggest grassroots development program in the country, which is a big call, but the numbers back her up. More than 114 000 kids from 5584 schools were involved in the program last season, thanks to the dedication of nearly 9000 volunteer coaches and the excellent custodianship of CSA’s mass-participation manager, David Mokopanele.

Corrie van Zyl, CSA’s general manager of cricket, makes an even bigger call and says it is the best development program in the world. The fact that countries like Australia, India and England have been in contact wanting to know more about KFC Mini-Cricket, especially their marvellous Kids v Proteas Tour, suggests he may be correct.

I was privileged to attend the KFC Mini-Cricket National Seminar held in Kruger Park this week, which is an incentive for the top coaches of the previous season, a celebration of what has been achieved and a focused look at their future targets.

It may surprise some to know that I don’t recall hearing the word “transformation” once over the two days and that’s simply because, at that level, both coaches and players are already predominantly Black. Colour is one thing, but fixing the socio-economic conditions that make it so hard for any talented boy or girl to make it from the vast rural areas of our country is another matter altogether and KFC Mini-Cricket is probably the best weapon we have when it comes to taking the game to greater portions of our population.

Van Zyl was one of the speakers who addressed the delegates drawn from all 16 affiliates of Cricket South Africa and he pointed out in no uncertain terms that excellence at the highest level was non-negotiable, but that it was also dependent on grassroots development and vice-versa.

The former international fast bowler and national coach used the example of The Oaks Cricket Club from a small village near Hoedspruit where Cavaan Moyakamela, a coach with an extraordinary love for the game, mentors 70 children on a concrete slab.

“Imagine if a guy from The Oaks is chosen for the Limpopo U13 side, he will bring great passion and we can use and enhance that. Our dream is that a kid from that area can become a Protea, but there will be performance gaps – socio-economic factors that affect his health, physical and psychological development and his lifestyle – that we need to close for him.

“We cannot change the benchmark of international cricket, we have to take the players to that standard, and the responsibility of our coaches is to get the player there. If we don’t maintain excellence at international level then the grassroots suffers because we need money to develop that. They both depend on each other because the grassroots is the base of our game.

“KFC Mini-Cricket is the biggest part of that base, it is strong and built on the passion and dedication of the coaches. If we are to maintain excellence then we need quality coaching, so we need to grow coaches so the kids can grow under them. The growth of the program has been so good that with that base, the cream will rise to the top,” Van Zyl said.

Temba Bavuma spoke movingly about how he was first introduced to cricket via the program, getting to run around on the same Newlands ground where he scored his historic maiden Test century last summer; AB de Villiers is also a product, while the program is going strong in the remote regions of the former Transkei and Limpopo. It’s reach will only increase thanks to the wonderful news that KFC have extended their sponsorship of the program for another 10 years.

When the Kids v Proteas Tour came to Umtata, it was like the world’s greatest bazaar had hit town, such was the reaction.

“It brought Umtata to a standstill! Their little school was playing against the Proteas and it was magical. Many of the communities we have stores in hunger for this sort of development and our dream is for young people to look back and remember ‘the day KFC came to my small town with cricket’,” Mkhwanazi says.

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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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